When the company violates a Wage Order, you may be owed money wages
How to recover money from California Wage Order violations
Overview of California Wage Law - an insider's view
California has perhaps the strongest worker protection wage theft laws in not only the United States, but in the world. California workers are fortunate to have such strong laws that protect them, their wages, and their working conditions.
Since I have been involved in not only creating new case law in California, but also the legislative process and the drafting of California wage theft law, I bring an insider view of California wage theft law.
Bill Turley is regularly asked to testify before the California State Senate and California Assembly on wage legislation - he has a unique insider's view on California wage law
California's wage and hour laws
The California Wage Orders are to be liberally construed for the protection of workers
California's wage orders are part of the remedial worker protection framework.
Time and again, the California Supreme Court has characterized that purpose as Labor Code and the IWC wage orders that cover employees is the protection of employees. Particularly given the extent of legislative concern about working conditions, wages, and hours when the Legislature enacted key portions of the Labor Code.
The California Supreme Court held this in the ground breaking California Supreme Court Brinker case. that provided meal period and rest period rights to California workers. Bill Turley represented the worker in the historic Brinker case.
We saw this in the recent Augustus case, where the Supreme Court - in effect - said, “All those rights that we said applied to meal breaks and implied applied to rest breaks for California workers, well we meant every word of it and yes, they also apply to rest breaks.” At least that is my take on the Augustus Supreme Court decision. And it is exactly what Bill wrote in the winning Supreme Court brief in the Augustus case.
The whole purpose of the California Labor Code and California Wage Orders are remedial in nature. Meaning, they are to give rights to workers that California employers have historically abused.
In furtherance of that purpose, the California Supreme Court liberally construes the Labor Code and wage orders to favor the protection of employees. This is Brinker 101, so to speak.
The Wage Orders not only protect workers - but the Wage Orders also benefit law-abiding businesses “to prevent a “race to the bottom”
The Wage Orders also protect the public
Which of California’s 17 Wage Orders Apply to Me?
California’s 17 separate wage orders were created by the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC), and are overseen by California’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). These orders are numbered 1 through 17, and each one is available to the public and dated with the year in which it was last amended.
State wage orders regulate many different factors, most notably the wage levels, hours, overtime calculations, and working conditions for each industry (for example, delivery truck drivers are guaranteed proper meal and rest breaks under Wage Order #9.). Employers are required to comply with both the general California labor laws and any wage orders that apply to their business. If an employer fails to comply with all provisions of state employment laws, they may face penalties through the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).
The "other" California Wage Order is the "minimum wage" Order that applies to every industry/ occupation.
The 17 California Wage Orders include provisions for:
- Manufacturing Industry
- Personal Services Industry
- Canning, Freezing, and Preserving Industry
- Professional, Technical, Clerical, Mechanical and Similar Occupations
- Public Housekeeping Industry
- Laundry, Linen Supply, Dry Cleaning and Dyeing Industry
- Mercantile Industry
- Industries Handling Products After Harvest
- Transportation Industry
- Amusement and Recreation Industry
- Broadcasting Industry
- Motion Picture Industry
- Industries Preparing Agricultural Products for Market, on the Farm
- Agricultural Occupations
- Household Occupation
- Certain On-Site Occupations in the Construction, Drilling, Logging and Mining Industries
- Miscellaneous Employees (workers who are not covered by another industry or occupation order)
And - the California minimum wage - wage order.
Here is the link to the State of California site that lists the Wage Orders.
It is important to note that there are some exceptions to industry wage orders. Some employees may be exempt from earning overtime in certain situations, such as technical workers (covered under Wage Order 4) whose total pay is at least 50 percent in the form of commissions and who earn at least one and one-half times the minimum wage.
What should I do if I can't figure out the California Wage Order that applies to me?
I will tell you exactly where I go, when it's not so apparent which Wage Order may apply. The State of California has a good webpage called "Which Wage Order?" You go to the "Which Wage Order?" page and search for warehouse and you will see that Wage Order 9 applies to your industry.
If you work in a restaurant as a cook. You go to the "Which Wage Order?" page and search for restaurant and you will see that Wage Order 5 applies to your industry.
But< you can't just go to the first wage order that describes your job. For example, if you search for "cook" you may really be thrown off track.
If you can't figure it out, you can call my office and we can help.
To learn more about your rights in a wage and hour case, read through our free book, California Truck & Delivery Driver Wage Theft: The Ultimate Straight Talk Guide to Getting Your Hard Earned Wages Back.
An important example of the powerfulness of California Wage Orders
California workers rights to rest breaks, actually come from the Wage Orders. Most Wage Orders have a Section 12, that lays out workers rights to rest breaks in that industry. The Wage Orders obligate employers to permit and authorize employees to take off‑duty rest periods. That is, during rest periods employers must relieve employees of all duties and relinquish control over how employees spend their time. This is from the powerful Augustus vs. ABM California Supreme Court case. Which is exactly what I urged the Court to follow in the California Supreme Court brief that I wrote in Augustus.
Another great example of California Wage Orders helping California workers
The California Supreme Court held that in determining whether to classify workers as employees or as independent contractors for purposes of California's wage, the "suffer or permit to work" standard set forth in the wage orders require a hiring entity asserting independent contractor status to establish each of the three factors of the ABC test.
Clients that are happy they got their check in a California Wage Case
Bill is always going to be straight-up. He is going to tell you what you need to hear, not what you may want to hear.
This is why Bill is continually asked to go to Sacramento in order to work on wage issues with the California State Assembly, California State Senate, the State of California Labor Commissioner’s Office, California Secretary of State’s Office, and the California Attorney General’s office. Bill doesn't work for the California Legislature or these California agencies. But the fact that they regularly consult with Bill on California wage law speaks volumes to his expertise.
He’s well known for telling it like it is. They know he’ll tell the truth in his no B.S., tell it like it is style.
Words of Caution
Bill candidly points out that there are no guarantees that any lawsuit, wage class action case, and/or PAGA case will be successful and/or whether anyone will recover money, wages and/or penalties. There are any number of reasons why these cases are defeated, aren’t certified and/or are unsuccessful. Every case is different. Every situation is different. Every case has different facts, evidence and defenses.