“I am going to tell you the brutal, frank, truth - no matter what - even if it isn’t what you want to hear. But, you and your wage case will be the better for it." - Bill Turley
My name is Bill Turley. I am a wage and hour lawyer. I was recently asked to testify before the California State Senate on how employers steal your wages. I was also recently asked by the United States Senate Commerce Committee to help draft wage legislation.
Believe it or not, I am known for being blunt and straight-forward. I am all about Wage Layer Straight Talk.
Don't buy what the company tells you about why they can't pay you fair wages
Have you been told that your company “can’t afford overtime,” or to count your tips as part of your minimum wage? If you are a worker in the state of California, these are just some of the many tactics employers use to withhold rightful pay from their employees.
5 Common Ways California Employers Cheat Their Employees Out of Wages
While many wage laws are set by the U.S. government, there are many different laws that affect the amount a worker can be paid. A wage violation may be against California state law, against federal law, or against city and regional laws. If a worker is not paying careful attention to the amount of each paycheck, his employer could be stealing thousands of dollars or more from employees by:
- Paying a lower minimum wage. Minimum wage is set at different rates by city, state, and federal law. As a result, employees must be paid the highest possible minimum wage for their work location, no matter if it is at the federal, state, or local rate. For example, an employee in California must be paid at least $10 per hour in 2016, but employees in San Francisco enjoy a city minimum wage of $12.25 per hour.
- Violating tipping laws. Federal law may allow employers to pay tipped workers a lower minimum wage, but the California state law requires employers to pay tipped employees the full state minimum wage before adding tips. In addition, some employers may steal wages by paying non-tipped workers from the tip pool, sharing tips with managers, and taking pay deductions when an employee’s tips are high.
- Overtime violations. Both federal and state law require overtime pay if employees work more than 40 hours in a week. However, California law also guarantees an employee the right to time-and-a-half pay if they work more than eight hours in a day, and double-time pay to employees who work more than 12 hours in a day. Employers may break the law by failing to count all hours an employee has worked, redistribute worked hours in a payroll system to avoid going over 40 in one week, encouraging employees to work on lunches or “off the clock,” or paying less than the required rate of overtime.
- Denying meal and rest breaks. State law provides California workers with guaranteed 30-minute unpaid meal breaks after five hours on the job, and a second meal break after ten hours. California workers are also entitled to one paid ten-minute break for every four hours worked. Failure to provide these breaks or requiring employees to do work-related tasks while on a break is illegal under state law.
- Employee misclassification. Employees enjoy many rights and benefits that independent contractors do not. As federal and state wage and hour laws do not protect independent contractors, employers may classify workers as contractors to avoid paying minimum wage, overtime, and health benefits. Workers who have been misclassified may be owed thousands of dollars in withheld wages during their employment.
If your employer is committing one of the above violations, you should take action immediately. Read through our free guide, The Ultimate Straight Talk Guide To Getting Your Hard Earned Wages Back, for more information on California wage theft.
Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation. Thanks, Bill Turley