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Unpaid Wages, Bonuses, and Other Compensation under California Wage Law

California Wage and Hour Attorneys I California Wage and Hour Lawyers I California Wage and Hour Attorney I California Wage and Hour Lawyer Bill Turley


Unpaid Wages, Bonuses, and Other Compensation

Under California Wage and Hour Laws, the basic Wage and Hour rule is your employer must pay you for the work you do. Simple, but oftentimes not followed.

If your employer thinks you have done a bad job or haven't completed your work assignments, your employer's remedy is to fire you or discipline you - - not withhold your wages for doing your job poorly. There are a few narrow exceptions, where your employer can withhold your wages for specific reasons.

This general rule applies across the range of compensation which you may receive. Thus, your employer can not withhold or "cancel" vested vacation pay, bonuses, and pension or retirement benefits. Your employer can not charge you for losses which may occur in the business. Your employer can't charge you for uniforms.

A California employer that does not comply with these California Wage and Hour Laws is subject to repayment of the back wages or benefits. You can recover back wages for a period of up to four (4) years. You are also entitled to interest and penalties and your attorney fees.


Types and Forms of Wage Theft:

     1.     Misclassification

     2.     Not paying overtime

     3.     Not paying double time

     4.     Not providing meal breaks

     5.     Not allowing rest periods

     6.     Not paying vacation time

     7.     Not reimbursing expenses

     8.     Making employees pay for uniforms

     9.      Making employees pay for shortages/ missing product


Labor Laws and Their Misinterpretations

The labor laws and regulations that cover drivers in California are such that there is a lot of room for companies to misunderstand, misinterpret, or simply disregard the law. Some California transportation companies do everything they can to negotiate their way out of paying legal wages to their drivers and repair employees, including:

  • Negotiating "comp time." Have you been asked to trade a few hours of unpaid work for “comp time” next week? In most circumstances, this is not a legal practice, and you should be paid accurately for all of the actual time you spend performing work duties.
  • Negotiating "off the clock” time. Have you been "asked" to stay a little late without pay or finish up your paperwork in the truck? If you are working “off the clock” for any reason, it should be a red flag that you may not be getting the overtime pay you truly deserve.
  • Asking workers to sign off on meal periods and rest breaks. Some companies "ask" their drivers to sign-off each day or week that that they received their meal periods and/or rest breaks.  Don't let this fool you. We win cases all the time when companies do this.
  • Asking drivers to sign contracts or waivers that break the law. You can’t give up your legal wage protections, even if you want to. This even applies when have signed a contract that agrees to terms that are in violation of federal and state labor laws.


What Kind of Money Wages Are We Talking About?

When the company is ripping off your wages on a daily basis, it really adds up fast.  For example, let’s say the company is not complying with meal and rest period laws and you earn $19 an hour and you work 11 hours a day.  For each missed meal period you are owed $19 , each missed rest period $19 and each ½ hours pay illegally auto-deducted is at time and one half - $14.25.

Most drivers work 260 days a year.

    $19 x 2 meal periods (since you work over 10 hours)  = $38

    $19 x 2 rest periods  = $38

    Illegal auto deduct = $14.25

This comes out to $90.25 per day.

    $90.25 x 260 =   $23,465

Plus 30 days waiting time penalties if you no longer work at the company.

    $251.75 X 30 days pay = $7,552

We are talking $31,017 if you only count one year.  Under California law you get 4 years of back wages.

Vacation Pay and Use It or Don't Use It but you Don't Lose It

Under California Wage and Hour Laws, wages include accrued vacation pay. Under California vacation pay is not a gratuity or a gift. Vacation pay is additional compensation for work performed for the employer.

Whenever a contract of employment or employer policy provides for paid vacations, and an employee is terminated without having taken his vested vacation time, all vested vacation shall be paid to him or her as wages at this final rate in accordance with such contract of employment or employer policy respecting eligibility or time served. Further, you employment contract and/or your employer's policy can not require you to forfiet your vacation time when you are terminated.

Why Bill is asked to testify concerning wage law legislation at the California State Senate and the California Assembly 

Bill Turley is regularly asked to testify before the California State Senate and the California Assembly concerning potential wage legislation. The California legislature is how wage laws are made. 

Usually when Bill testifies before the California State Senate on wage and hour issues, Bill is the only class action lawyer invited to testify at the hearing. 

Bill testified before the California State Assembly and California State Senate on the new PAGA bill (read: wage theft legislation).

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. 

William Turley
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