San Diego Wage & Hour Claims
Wage and hour claims arise most frequently regarding minimum wage, bounced paychecks, unpaid overtime, improper deductions, payment of wages owed at termination, and break periods. California law provides for penalties for underpayment, nonpayment, failure to provide break periods, and requiring people to work more than seven consecutive days.
California’s minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum. The minimum wage law applies to all regular workers with these exceptions:
- Outside salespeople
- A parent, spouse, child or legally adopted child of the employer
- Volunteers in an unpaid national service program, for example AmeriCorps
- Direct employees of the state or any county, incorporated city or town, or other municipal corporation
- Workers with certain disabilities in sheltered programs
Payroll Checks that Bounce
It is a violation of the California Labor Code for an employer to pay wages or other compensation with a check not covered by sufficient funds or not connected with a valid bank account. An employer who violates the sections of the California Labor Code applying to bad checks will be liable for late payment penalties from the date the paycheck was owed through the date the employee receives payment, up to 30 days, unless the employer can prove the bouncing of the check was inadvertent.
An employee who waits more than 30 days to deposit a paycheck cannot sue his employer for late payment penalties; the employer will only have to pay the wages and insufficient fund fees. The employer is not liable when using a bonding company for payroll.
Nonexempt employees 18 or older, or minor employees 16 or 17 years, not required by law to attend school, who work more than eight hours in a single work day or more than 40 hours total in any workweek must be paid one-and-a-half times the regular rate of pay, or twice the rate for hours in excess of 12 in a single day. If the employee works more than 6 consecutive days in one work week, on the 7th consecutive day, overtime pay is twice the regular rate after the 8th hour.
Certain classes of employees may be exempt from overtime pay. This depends on job duties, not job title. Employees in these categories may be exempt:
- Executive (supervising two or more others), administrative, and professional employees meeting certain requirements, including having a regular salary at least 2.5 times the minimum wage and exercising “discretion and independent judgment.”
- Computer professionals
- Outside salespeople
Employers often deliberately misclassify employees in order to avoid paying required overtime.
- Employers must provide a minimum of 10 minutes of paid rest time for each four-hour segment of work time. The employer can schedule breaks to accommodate work flow.
- Employees working five or more hours are entitled to a meal break of at least 30 minutes. Meal periods are unpaid if the employee is relieved from work duties. If the employee is required to stay on the premises, it becomes paid time.
- In California, employers must make reasonable accommodation for nursing mothers by allowing breaks and a private location, not a toilet stall, to express breast milk.
When an employer violates the California Labor Code, the employees can file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement of the Labor Commissioner’s Office and file suit for damages.
In San Diego, the experienced employment lawyers at Harrison & Bodell devote a large portion of their practice to helping victims of labor law violations. To safeguard your rights to the pay you deserve, call for a free consultation.