Failing To Understand Wage And Hour Laws May Lead To Legal Problems
California affords many protections to make sure that employees get properly compensated for the work they provide. We, at the DeVito Law Group, represent employees in a variety of wage and hour matters, including, but not limited to, overtime, meal and rest periods, unlawful deductions, independent contractor misclassification and unpaid wages, commissions, or bonuses. Our firm also counsels employers to ensure compliance with the law.
What is overtime compensation?
Overtime is additional compensation paid to a nonexempt employee for work performed in excess of eight hours in any workday or more than 40 hours in any workweek. The law provides that for all hours worked in excess of eight hours up to and including 12 hours in any given workday or for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work, the employee shall be paid one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay. For all hours worked in excess of 12 hours on any workday and for all hours worked in excess of eight on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek, the employee shall be paid double the employee’s regular rate of pay.
What is the difference between exempt and nonexempt employees?
The law makes the distinction between exempt and nonexempt employees for purposes of determining who is protected under the various wage and hour provisions provided for in the Industrial Welfare Commission Orders, such as overtime and rest periods.
Nonexempt status means that the employee is subject to wage and hour laws, including overtime, meal and rest periods. Most California employees fall under this classification.
Exempt status means that the employee is excluded from receiving the benefits provided by the various wage and hour laws, including overtime. Categories of persons usually exempted, include:
- Employees primarily engaged in administrative, executive or professional capacities
- Outside salespersons
- Employees covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement that expressly provides for the wages, hours of work and working conditions of the employees
- Truck drivers
- Ambulance drivers
- Professional actors
- Personal attendants in private homes
- Employees directly employed by the state or any county, incorporated city or town, or other municipal corporation
Note that to fall into one of the above-mentioned exempt categories, certain stringent criteria have to be met. The burden is on the employer to show that an employee is exempt from enjoying the rights granted by the different wage and hour provisions.
Does an employee have a legal remedy if he is not provided a lunch period?
Yes, the law in California states that employers must provide their employees with at least a 30-minute meal period for every five hours worked in a day. If the total work period per day is no more than six hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual agreement between the employer and employee. A second meal period of at least 30 minutes must be provided if an employee works more than 10 hours per day. However, if the total number of hours worked in a day is no more than 12 hours, the second meal period may be waived by mutual consent of the employer and the employee, provided that the first meal was not waived. Employees must be relieved of all duty during the meal period unless the nature of the work prevents the employee from being relieved of all duty and the employee and employer have agreed in writing that the meal period will be on the job.
If an employer fails to provide a nonexempt employee a meal period during which the employee is relieved of all duty, the employer must pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of pay for each day that the meal period is not provided.
Are employers required to provide employees with breaks?
The law in California requires employers to provide nonexempt employees with a 10-minute rest period for each four-hour block of time worked. Rest periods must be taken in the middle of each four-hour work period. However, the law does not require employers to provide a rest period to those employees whose total daily work time is less than 3 ½ hours.
If an employer fails to provide an employee with a rest period, the employer shall pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of pay for each workday that the rest period is not provided.
Can an employer deduct monies that were overpaid from the wages of an employee?
The law prohibits any deduction from an employee’s wages that is not authorized by the employee in writing or permitted by law.
Aside from deductions agreed to in writing by the employee, the following are the only other types of deductions permitted by law:
- Deductions that are required of the employer by federal or state law, such as income taxes
- Deductions expressly authorized by the employee in writing to cover insurance premiums, hospital or medical dues, or other deductions not amounting to a rebate or deduction from the wage paid to the employee
- Deductions authorized by a collective bargaining agreement to cover health and welfare or pension payments
- Deductions for arriving to work late
If you believe that your owed wages, including overtime, have been misclassified for purposes of the wage and hour provisions, have had monies unlawfully deducted from your wages, or have any other wage and hour concerns or issues, contact the DeVito Law Group today.