Many California employers obey the California labor laws. Unfortunately, some don’t. One of the top ways dishonest employers steal time and money from their workers is stealing minutes.
Workers have a right to be paid for ALL time worked. Have you noticed that whenever a glitch in the timekeeping system gives workers a little extra money, the company will correct it right away. But when a “glitch” causes workers to lose money it never seems to get fixed. Or have you noticed that you have to do just one or two small things after you clock out like go through a security check or check in equipment. Or before you clock in like log onto a computer or turn off an alarm. If these things are others like them are happening to you, your employer may be stealing pay from you and your co-workers. Employers know that over the course of a year, minutes they don’t have to pay their workers add up to substantial savings, especially if the minutes are overtime minutes. A full-time worker who makes $15 an hour and loses just one overtime minute a day, will lose over $100 a year to wage theft. When you fill up your car with gas, you don’t get to take “just a little” more because it’s “not a big deal.” It’s the same at work. Employers don’t get to steal “just a little” time from workers because it’s “not that much.” If you are experiencing these kinds of small losses of time at work, you may want to contact an experienced employment attorney to see if your employer is stealing wages.
California employees and job applicants who are the victims of discrimination or retaliation because they complained about unpaid wages are now eligible to receive a civil penalty of up to $10,000. Many times employees begin working at a job only to find that their new employer is breaking the law by refusing to pay them at least minimum wage for all hours worked or overtime. The new employee complains and is promptly fired. Labor Code section 98.6 outlaws such conduct, but it is hard for the employee to take action because often the employee only worked a short period for the employer, and his or her damages may only be a few hundred dollars. The employee may not be able to find an attorney to take the case and the work required for the employee to take the case to the Labor Commissioner on his or her own may not be worth the very limited potential recovery.
By directing payment of the up to $10,000 penalty to the employee who has been harmed, California now makes it possible for employees to recover an amount closer to the value of their lost wages and the aggravation and upset of having been the victim of unlawful retaliation.
On call time is time that an employer requires an employee to be ready and available to work, but for which the employer doesn’t pay the employee. For example, a limousine company might require its drivers to carry a cell phone and be available to drive within two hours of receiving a call to drive. In this situation, the driver would be on call but the company wouldn’t start paying him or her until an assignment came in. The more restrictions that a company places on what an employee can do during on-call time, the more likely it is that company must pay him or her for the time spent waiting to work. So, for example, if the company required the limousine driver to stay with the limousine at all times and be ready to pick up a passenger within 30 minutes of receiving a call, the company would likely have to pay the driver for time spent waiting for the call.
Employees who have not been properly paid for on-call time may be able to recover unpaid regular wages and overtime as well as any applicable penalties. If you think your employer has failed to pay you for on call time, contact the Law Offices of G. Samuel Cleaver by email or phone at 323-648-6676 for a free consultation
Under California law, an employer must pay its employees for all hours worked. This includes time spent traveling on the employer’s business. In addition to normal business travel, this means that an employer has to pay employees for time spent traveling between job sites during the work day or travel back to the main office or other company location at the end of the day. It also means that the employer has to pay an employees who report to work at one location then travel to another location for training for their time spent traveling. The employer may pay the employees at a lower rate of pay, but the employees must receive compensation. In addition, the employer may have to pay mileage expenses to employees who use their own vehicles on company related business.
You may want to consult an attorney if you believe your employer has failed to pay you for travel pay or reimburse your travel expenses. Contact the Law Offices of G. Samuel Cleaver by email or phone at 323-648-6676 for a free consultation.
Although there are exceptions for certain industries and positions, most California employers must provide employees with a 30 minute meal period break for every 5 hours the employee works. The meal period break must be off duty, which means the employee must be fully relieved of his or her duties during the break. An employer that fails to provide a 30 minute meal period must pay an employee who works through his or her meal period one hour’s pay as a penalty. This is in addition to the pay due the employee for the actual time worked when he or she should have been on break.
An employee may work through his or her meal period with no penalty to the employer if the employee chooses to do so. But if the employer knows that the employee worked during the meal period break, the employer must pay him or her for the time worked. Also, if the employer pressures the employee to work through his or her break, the employer must pay the penalty.
California employers must also provide a paid rest break of at least 10 minutes for every four hours an employee works. The rest break must be as near to the middle of the four hour period as is practicable for the employer.
While the penalty for failing to provide a meal period may seem small, it can add up to a substantial amount of money if the violation continues over time. If your employer has failed to provide meal or rest period breaks, you may be able to recover wages due and penalties. Contact the Law Offices of G. Samuel Cleaver by email or phone at 323-648-6676 for a free consultation.
To kick off the California Workplace Rights Blog, the blog is reviewing 10 of the most often violated employee wage and hour rights.
At the top of the list of frequently violated workplace rights is unpaid overtime. California law requires California employers to pay employees at time and a half for all hours worked over 8 hours in a day and 40 hours in a week and to pay two times the employee’s regular rate for all hours worked over 12 hours in a day. Additionally, employees who work seven days in a row must receive time and a half for the first 8 hours worked on the seventh day and double time for every additional hour.
Some employers try to get around the law by paying their employees a salary instead of an hourly wage. The employers tell employees they are “overtime exempt” because they receive a salary. The truth is exceptions to California’s overtime law are very narrow. Most California employees, even those that are paid a salary, must receive overtime pay. Employers who don’t properly pay their employees overtime are committing wage theft, which is a misdemeanor crime. (Labor Code Sec. 553).
Other employers tell employees that the employees aren’t eligible for overtime because they are managers or assistant managers. But the law looks at many other factors than just job title to decide whether an employee is overtime exempt. For example, if a manager or assistant manager doesn’t earn more than twice the minimum wage or spends more than half his or her time doing the same work as non-managerial employees, then he or she should receive overtime pay.
California law provides powerful tools for employees to recover unpaid overtime. If you think your employer has failed to pay you overtime, email or call the Law Offices of G. Samuel Cleaver at 323-648-6676 for a free consultation today.