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Wage Theft Now Qualifies As Grand Theft In California

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

An Update On California Wage Theft Laws In 2022

Under the new rule, any willful theft of pay in excess of $950 from one employee or $2,350 from two or more employees in any consecutive 12-month period by an employer is a crime punishable as a misdemeanor or felony.

That said, here are possible cases of wage theft that might qualify as grand theft in California:

Non-exempt employees in California are entitled to a minimum wage and compulsory overtime for labor exceeding a set number of hours under California wage and hour law. In addition, if an employer fails to pay its employees for work done, the employee may be owed money for unpaid wages.

1. Missed Meal and Rest Break

Employers are required by California law to provide employees with a paid ten-minute rest break for every four hours working (or a major fraction of four hours). Employees are also entitled to an unpaid 30-minute meal break after five hours of work. In addition, if an employee works more than ten hours, they are entitled to a second 30-minute unpaid meal break.

For each workday in which a meal break is not paid, California law imposes a penalty, which requires one hour of pay at the employee's regular rate. The same concept holds true for rest periods. So, for example, if an employee has an eight-hour shift and your employer fails to give you meal and rest breaks, the employee is then entitled to two hours of pay (one hour for the missed meal break and another for the missed rest periods).

Consult a prescreened California Employment Attorney to know more about your rights to rest and meal breaks. Each case is different, and therefore your employment claim needs to be reviewed for the best possible legal options.

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2. Damages in Wage Claim Cases

When you win an employment claim, you'll sometimes be awarded damages for all the trouble and losses it's cost you. These damages are often paid by the employer you filed claims against.

Liquidated damages are a predetermined sum designed to reimburse you for difficult to define losses. For example, when a company fails to pay the minimum wage, the law presumes that you have suffered additional losses due to being denied your earned wages. Therefore, you are entitled to liquidated damages equivalent to the amount of your lost wages if you were paid less than the minimum wage.

3. Waiting Time

If you are dismissed in California, you have the right to collect your last pay right away (at the time of termination). You are entitled to receive it immediately if you quit with at least 72 hours notice (at the time of quitting). Your employer has 72 hours from the day you give the notice to provide your final check if you quit without giving notice.

Not only must your final paycheck include compensation for all hours worked (including the overtime premium, if applicable), but it must also include reimbursement for any accrued but unused vacation time.

You may be entitled to receive waiting time penalties if your paycheck is late or does not include all of the salary or vacation you are earned. You are entitled to a full day's pay at your regular rate for every day your employer is late, up to a maximum of 30 days.

If you've been or have waited too long for your final pay, consult with a prescreened Los Angeles Employment Lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve.

4. Wage Statements Violations

Employers are required by California law to include specific information in employees' paychecks, such as your rate, hours worked, total pay, possible deductions, and so on. This information is usually found on the employee's pay stub. Therefore, you might be subject to fines if your employer omitted to provide this information to you or gave false information (as would be the case if you were not paid for all hours worked, for example).

To help you find evidence for possible wage theft, consult with a California Employment Attorney to help you.

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5. Payday Law Violations

You may be able to recover penalties for payday law infractions if you bring a lawsuit as a "private attorney general" (if you sue on behalf of the state to enforce the Labor Code). If you file claims only on your own behalf, you won't be subject to these fines.

According to California law, employers qualified for overtime pay must be paid at least twice a month on specific paydays. If you are not paid on time and at the correct rate for all hours worked, your employer may be required to pay a penalty of $100 for the first pay period and $200 for each successive pay period.

This is a per-employee penalty. When you register as a private attorney general, the state receives 75% of the money you collect, leaving you with the remaining 25%. is a California Bar Association Certified Lawyer Referral Service that refers you to a California Employment Attorney.

You may contact us through our 24/7 live chat (or complete our case details submission form) for a free initial consultation.


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