Wage Theft Now Qualifies As Grand Theft In California

Updated: Jan 28

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:


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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.