• Posted By Sirmabekian
  • 2022

Employers within the state of California are subject to wage and hour laws, and can suffer various penalties if they choose to violate them. Below is an overview of these laws as well as your rights as an employee.

Employee Rights

Every non-exempt employee working in California has the right to rest and meal breaks, minimum wage, overtime and double time:

  • Rest and meal breaks: Non-exempt employees should be given rest and meal breaks at specific intervals. Currently, these breaks must be provided when employees work over five hours within a single workday, which makes them eligible for a thirty-minute rest. If they work another five hours (ten in total) then they must be given a second thirty-minute break.
  • Minimum wage: Most California employees, including exempt workers, must be paid the state’s minimum wage. This amount is subject to change, but is currently $15 per hour for businesses that have twenty six employees or more, and fourteen dollars per hour for businesses that have twenty five employees or fewer. Independent contractors are not included, and it should also be noted that individual counties and cities within California might actually mandate greater minimum wages.
  • Overtime: Overtime means that if an employee works more than a specific number of hours, they must be compensated with higher wages. Overtime is only given to employees who are non-exempt, and applies in situations where they work more than eight hours within a single workday or more than forty hours per week. In this case, the workers are entitled to time plus a half payment.
  • Double Time: If an employee works more than twelve hours within a single workday, they are subject to double time, meaning they get twice their normal pay. So an employee that normally earns $15 per hour when working a standard eight-hour shift would get $30 an hour if they work more than 12 hours.

Exempt Employees, Non-Exempt Employees and Independent Contractors

Most wage and hourly laws apply to non-exempt employees, but exempt employees are not subject to things such as overtime. Examples of exempt employees are doctors or surgeons, computer software developers, teachers and anyone that earns the majority of their money from commissions, especially that which is 1.5 times higher than the current minimum wage.

Independent contractors are individuals that work freelance. Like exempt employees, they are not subject to hourly wage laws, including overtime or double time. The key difference between independent contractors and employees is that independent contractors have greater control over the method by which a task is completed.

What Should You Do If Your Employer Violates Your Hour/Wage Rights?

If you have proof demonstrating that your employer has violated your hour/wage rights, you can initiate litigation against them by hiring an attorney. If you are employed by a large corporation, they will probably have vast legal resources of their own, which may necessitate a class action suit. The most important thing is to have proof and documentation showing the violation of the rights so you can thoroughly pursue your case in court.

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