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Wage and Hour Claims Under California Employment Law

Updated: Oct 20

Learn Everything You Need To Know About California Wage and Hour Laws And How To File a Claim for This Case


Is your employer paying you what you're legally entitled to? Wage theft affects millions of workers every day when their employers refuse to compensate them for their job appropriately. Wage theft is not only unethical, but it is also criminal. You have the right to be fairly compensated for your work, and an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles can help you get it.

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Employers are required under California law to pay their employees for all hours worked. You may have a legal claim against your employer if you haven't received the money you deserve. One of the most widespread types of theft in the world is wage theft. The United States, unfortunately, is no exception. Despite the existence of regulations designed to safeguard employees, some businesses continue to fail to pay their employees what they are entitled to.

Wage theft can take many different forms, and it isn't just about skimming money from your paycheck. If you don't understand your rights, you may not even notice your employer is stealing from you. You have certain legal rights as an employee, including the entitlement to meal breaks, rest breaks, overtime, and double time. The legislation also stipulates that you must be paid within a specified amount of time after completing your assignment. Employers who fail to provide all of these benefits to their employees are committing wage theft.

California workers have more legal protection than workers in any other state. California state labor rules also apply to undocumented workers. As a California employee, you have a number of legal options available to you. An experienced Wage Claim Lawyer in Los Angeles can assist you in determining how much your company owes you.

As A California Employee, You Have The Right To A Fair Wage And Working Hours


To be eligible for legal protection, you must first be classified as an "employee." In comparison to independent contractors, employees have stronger legal protections. Employers may purposefully misclassify employees as independent contractors in order to pay them less or provide them with fewer benefits.


All employees have a legal right to be paid what they are owed. This includes the following in California:

  • For each 5-hour shift, there is one unpaid 30-minute food break

  • After ten hours of labor, you get a second unpaid 30-minute dinner break

  • Every four hours, a paid 10-minute rest period is provided

  • Paying qualifying employees the statutory minimum pay

  • After 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, you are entitled to overtime compensation

  • After 12 hours on a shift or 4 weeks without a day off, you will be paid double time

  • Prevailing salaries are those determined by government contracts (even if the employer is private)

  • Reimbursements of expenses, such as mileage and the use of a personal cell phone

Employees must also be paid every 15 days at the absolute least. An employee must be paid at the moment of termination if they are fired. They must be paid within 72 hours if they quit. If your company fails to pay you on time or routinely pays you late, you may be able to take legal action against them to recover the wages you are owed.


You have many possibilities for remedy if your employer is withholding wages:

  • Using the California Labor Commission to file a wage claim

  • submitting a pay claim to the appropriate government agency

  • Taking your employer to court for a wage and hour dispute

Additional California regulations, such as the Garment Worker Protection Act, exist to safeguard employees in specialized industries.


Wage claims frequently result in a settlement in which your employer agrees to pay you what you are owed. A wage and hour lawsuit can help you "make things right" as if your employer's wrongdoing never happened. A successful wage and hour case might result in monetary damages to compensate you for your employer's violations of the law. You are entitled to any outstanding wages, as well as the possibility that your company would be required to pay interest and fund your Labor Law Attorney expenses or litigation costs.


Types Of Wage And Hour Violations In California


Wage and hour breaches, like other employment claims, are based on the facts. That means the decision will be determined by the specifics of your case.


Wage and hour breaches come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You might not even be aware that your boss is underpaying you in some areas. The following are examples of common sorts of misconduct:

  1. Failure to pay workers the legally mandated minimum wage

  2. Refusing to pay workers the prevailing wage in the area

  3. Misclassifying a worker as an independent contractor is a common blunder

  4. Falsely labeling a worker as "exempt"

  5. Failure to pay earned commissions or promised bonuses to employees

  6. Failure to compensate employees for work-related expenses

  7. Employees were forced to work through their legally mandated breaks

  8. Employees are being pressured to labor "off the clock"

  9. Failure to compensate employees for unused vacation time

  10. Taking into account any additional hours you may have worked

  11. Refusing to pay hazard pay, despite the fact that it is required by your employment contract

  12. Taking unauthorized deductions from your pay

Fortunately, retaliation by employers is prohibited in California. You cannot face retaliation from your employer if you file a wage and hour claim. In fact, if your employer retaliates against you because you exercised your rights, they may face extra-legal consequences. Depending on the degree of your employer's misbehavior, you may be able to recover even more damages.

Minimum Wage and Overtime Regulations in California


Employers who pay you less than the minimum wage are breaking the law. Your employer is also required to pay you mandatory overtime for additional hours worked.


The necessary minimum wage in California varies depending on the size of your business. Furthermore, some counties or municipalities may have a greater minimum wage than the rest of the state. Almost every year, the minimum wage also rises at the start of the year. If the minimum wage is raised as a result of a change in the law, your employer must promptly boost your compensation to match. If your employer paid you less than the minimum wage at the time, you have the right to make a claim to recover the money owed to you for your work.


Overtime must be paid at 1.5 times your regular rate of pay, or time and a half. You are in double overtime if you work more than 12 hours in a single workday or more than 8 hours on your 7th consecutive workday in a single workweek. For this time, your company must pay you to double your regular hourly rate.


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Employees In California Are Entitled To Meal And Rest Breaks


As a California employee, you are entitled to the following benefits:

  • For every 4-hour work session, take a 10-minute break.

  • If you work more than 5 hours a day, take one 30-minute food break.

  • If you work more than 10 hours a day, you should take a second 30-minute food break.

  • If your employer does not or fails to provide you with these mandatory breaks, you are entitled to one hour of pay for each shift you were not permitted to take a break.

  • Wages that aren't paid or vacation time that isn't paid

Employers who force you to work "off the clock" are breaking the law. This includes work done before and after shifts, as well as administrative tasks and work done during meal or rest intervals. If you are an employee, you have the right to reclaim your wages for any period you are not paid for your labor.


Wage and hour standards cannot be waived under California law. You cannot, for example, just agree to work for less than the minimum wage with your employer. Your company is still legally obligated to pay you the minimum wage mandated by law.


In California, earned vacation time is also counted as part of your pay. As you work, you earn vacation time; therefore, it's a part of your remuneration package. Your company is allowed to set a reasonable limit on the total number of vacation days you can earn overtime, but "use it or lose it" practices are not allowed.


Your earned, unused vacation time cannot be waived or forfeited. Your company owes you money for vacation time you earned but never utilized, even if you are fired from your employment. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.


PAGA Claims in California

The Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) is a California law passed in 2004 that permits employees to sue their employers for infractions at work. When opposed to a conventional pay case, the procedure for filing a PAGA claim is different.


If you fit the profile of an "aggrieved employee" who has been subjected to at least one workplace law infraction at the hands of your employer, you are eligible to file a PAGA case. You can seek damages for all of your employer's workplace infractions with a PAGA suit, not just the wrongdoing that directly affects you. Even if you signed away your right to sue in your employment agreement, such as through compulsory arbitration arrangements, you could still initiate a PAGA complaint.


In California, you can file a PAGA claim for:

  • Violations of the California Labor Code or special PAGA laws

  • Violations of California health and safety regulations

  • Any other infractions of California labor laws

You must file a PAGA claim within one year of the last violation, according to the statute of limitations.


In PAGA disputes, even damages are handled differently. You recover civil penalties, not unpaid pay when you make a claim under PAGA. Any penalties you get will be shared among all of the employees who were harmed as a result of your employer's labor violations. The state of California receives the rest of the fines from PAGA claims.

If you're thinking about making a wage claim, consult with a Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles to see if a PAGA claim is appropriate in your situation. You have put in long hours to make a living, and you have faith in your boss to fairly recompense you. When that trust is shattered, it can be devastating — and not just financially. Employer wrongdoing can have a significant mental and emotional impact.

It can be intimidating to hold your employer accountable for their wrongdoing. You might not want to jeopardize your job or reputation among your coworkers. However, if your company is defrauding you of your income, they are most certainly defrauding other employees as well. As a result, many wage disputes become class action lawsuits in which several employees' interests are represented.

Are You Afraid of Your Employer Getting Back At You?


Losing your career could have disastrous consequences for you and your family. This is particularly true in today's economy when so many people are struggling to get by. You can find it difficult to locate a new job, especially if your firing has a bad impact on your CV. Unemployment could deplete your savings or cause you to fall behind on your mortgage payments.

Sometimes, such as with company-wide layoffs or restructuring, job loss is unavoidable and has nothing to do with you. Poor performance can sometimes lead to termination. The majority of occupations in the United States are on an at-will basis. That implies you could be dismissed or have your contract canceled at any time for any cause.