There Are Rules About Pay and Breaks
California provides numerous protections to employees with regards to their wages and the hours they are required to work. First off, California law requires employers to pay all employees their deserved, accrued wages upon termination, and to indemnify those employees for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in the course and scope of their employment. Other employee wage and hour protections are based on whether the employee is “exempt” or “non‐exempt,” with non‐exempt employees being entitled to additional wage and hour protections under California law.
Figuring out the difference between exempt and non‐exempt can be difficult (and, contrary to popular thought, is not based on whether a worker is paid hourly or by salary). Generally, most workers who are not classified as executives, managers or professionals (lawyers, doctors, etc.) or do not fall into certain administrative staff or salesperson categories, will be considered non‐exempt employees, meaning they are entitled to additional including the following:
- Overtime Compensation. A non‐exempt employee who works more than 8 hours in one day or more than 40 hours in a given week is entitled to receive overtime compensation at the rate of 1.5 times their normal hourly rate for all time in excess of either 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. Hours worked in excess of 12 hours in a given day or in excess of 8 hours on a seventh consecutive day of work should be paid at twice the employee's hourly rate. Regardless of whether an employee is paid by the hour or is salaried, that employee may be entitled to overtime.
- Meal and Break times. California employers are required to provide non‐exempt employees with a 30‐minute meal break within five hours of each work day's start (unless the work day is less than six hours), and a second meal break within 10 hours if the work day is over 12 hours, although the employee may waive the second meal break. Meal periods must be paid if the worker is required to stay on site for the meal. Employers are also required to provide 10‐minute breaks for each 4‐hour period worked.
Regardless of a worker's job performance, they are entitled to the above wage and hour protections, and it is illegal for employers to violate those wage and hour law requirements under state federal law. When they do, we at Vogel Law, APC will work to hold those employers accountable and obtain the compensation deserved by employees whose wage and hour law rights have been violated. Employees whose rights have been violated can sue for the compensation that was unfairly denied them ‐‐ whether in the form of unpaid wages, bonuses, expenditure reimbursements, overtime pay, or loss of meals and breaks ‐‐ and may be entitled to additional damages for the delay in payment or for the cost of bringing the action. Oftentimes, an employer will argue that an employee is actually an independent contractor and thus not entitled to wage and hour protections, but we will work to counter those arguments where applicable. It is important to remember that, in many cases, it is not just the rights of a single employee that are being violated by an employer but the rights of many other employees as well. Holding an employer accountable to the standards applicable to other California employers provides for a fair playing field and protects the interests of similarly situated employees.
At Vogel Law, APC, we work with employees who are simply trying to exercise their wage and hour law rights under the law. If you have had your wage and hour law rights violated by an employer in California, contact Pasadena employment law attorney Brian Vogel, who will fight to protect your rights under state and federal employment law and get the compensation you are rightly owed. For a free consultation, call (626) 796‐7470.