Making Ends Meet in California
You love your job, and you like the people you work with, but you’re not sure how much longer you’re going to be able to keep working there. It seems like you’re getting paid less with each paycheck, despite giving 40 hours (or more) of your life to your boss every week. Is everyone in California experiencing this kind of disappointment, or could there be some other explanation for your dwindling earnings?
Common Forms of Employer Wage Theft (ways that you're not getting all of your wages)
In many cases, employer wage theft is responsible for the reduction in the fair pay a worker has been promised. Employers may cheat workers out of dollars per day, which amounts to major monetary losses as workers provide years of faithful service to their employers.
Here are just a few ways workers lose portions of their paychecks day by day:
An employer may attempt to dock a worker’s pay for uniforms, cash shortages in registers, differences between disputed sales prices, damage to workplace merchandise or equipment, portions of other employee’s salaries, or various fees.
Meal break violations.
There are many ways employees can be cheated out of meal and break times. These range from not being given any breaks on a shift, asking employees to remain available or continue to work on a break, or requiring workers to clock out for all breaks even when work is still being performed.
Under California law, employers have four duties in providing meal breaks:
1. Employers must relinquish all control over you.
2. Employers must relieve you of all duties.
3. Employers must give you a reasonable opportunity to take a meal break.
4. Employer must not do anything to impede or discourage you from taking a meal period.
This all based on the California Supreme Court case - Brinker vs. Superior Court. I know a lot about this case and these duties because I represented the workers in the Brinker case. Fact is, there are a lot of ways that employers breach these duties. You are owed an hour's wage when you aren't provided a meal period.
Rest break violations
Under California law you are supposed to get a rest break every 4 hours or major fraction thereof. Many employers violate California's rest break laws. You are owed an hour's wage, every time your employer doesn't authorize and permit a rest break.
Varying hourly rates for the same work.
Employers who are reluctant to pay a higher rate for overtime hours may attempt to pay employees less for a portion of their hours, even if the employee performed the same kind of work.
Employees are often entitled to reimbursement for certain business expenses, such as mileage, cell phone costs, uniforms and work attire, and other expenses incurred as a part of the job. However, many employees are never told that reimbursement is an option, or are delayed or denied reimbursement until the employee simply gives up.
Truth is, you're supposed to be reimbursed all of your business expenses.
These are called 2802 claims, after California Labor Code Section 2802.
“Off the clock” requirements.
Many employers require workers to perform certain duties before and after their shifts, and may neglect to pay employees for these mandatory tasks. Employees may be forbidden to clock in before they are dressed in work attire, have passed through security, or have washed their hands. Workers may also be required to clock out before performing end-of-shift tasks, including cleaning workstations, setting up for the next shift, counting money, or dropping off supplies and deposits. Some employers may even warn employees that they have gone over forty hours, and require them to clock out to continue working in an effort to avoid paying overtime.
One common way that employees work "off the clock" is waiting in security lines and bag check lines, when they are not getting paid. Or having to walk through the plant, warehouse or factory before clocking in.
Failure to pay travel time.
Employees are required to be paid for any travel time that is not a regular commute, even if the employee is traveling with another worker or in the employer’s vehicle.
Vacation and PTO violations.
California law dictates that all vacation time and paid time off (PTO) cannot be forfeited at the end of the year. If employees do not use their vacation time or PTO, the employer must either “roll over” the balance of paid time off hours to the following year, or pay out the hours to the employee.
You should be aware that all of these tactics are illegal under California wage laws—and if your employer is found guilty, you could be owed thousands of dollars in back pay. To find out more ways employers steal pay, as well as how to take action against them, download a free copy of our book, The Ultimate Straight Talk Guide To Getting Your Hard Earned Wages Back.
Clients that are happy they got their check in a California Wage Case
Bill represented the workers in the landmark California Supreme Court case - Brinker vs Superior Court (Maybe the most important wage case for the protection of workers)
Bill represented the workers in the 2012 groundbreaking California Supreme Court case - Brinker vs. Superior Court. Many people say that the Brinker case is the most important California Supreme Court wage and hour case in years (if not ever).
One of the worker protection concepts in the Brinker decision that keeps getting repeated again and again:
“When construing the California Labor Code, California courts are to adopt the construction that best gives effect to the purpose of the Legislature and Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC). The purpose of these laws is the protection of workers. In furtherance of that purpose, California courts are to liberally construe the Labor Code and Wage Orders to favor protection of workers.”
In the Brinker case, the California Supreme Court laid out the duties that California companies have, including providing meal periods and rest periods to workers.
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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.