State and federal wage and hour laws provide a variety of protections to workers, including a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay requirements. When an employer violates these provisions, the employee may be entitled to compensation.
Minimum Wage Laws
The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is designed to give people a decent wage for the work they do. Many states set a higher minimum hourly rate, and it is illegal to pay most employees less than this minimum wage. In California, the minimum hourly rate is $10.50 for companies with 26 or more employees, and $10.00 for companies with 25 or fewer employees. Unfortunately, many employers either deliberately or unknowingly short-change their employees when it comes to pay. Employees must be aware of labor laws and understand how to assert their workplace rights.
Other Wage and Hour Protections
Federal law requires that most workers be paid at a rate at least 150% of their regular hourly rates for any hours worked in excess of 40 per week. Like minimum wage protections, overtime pay requirements differ from state to state. Some states, including California, provide greater protections to workers than the comparable federal statute offers.
Frequency of Pay
How often employees must be paid varies from state to state, and is sometimes complicated. Requirements range from a minimum of once per month to weekly, bi-weekly, or twice monthly. In California, how frequently an employee must be paid varies depending on the industry, meaning that some employees are entitled to weekly pay, while others may be paid every other week or twice a month.
Common Wage and Hour Violations
Some of the most common violations of federal and state wage and hour requirements include:
- Paying less than the minimum wage
- Not paying for overtime
- Making employees work off-the-clock without pay
- Making illegal paycheck deductions
- Misclassifying employees as exempt by labeling them independent contractors or management
- Not compensating employees for breaks of less than 20 minutes
- Making deductions that reduce pay below minimum wage
Exceptions to Wage and Hour Laws
Certain types of workers or those working in certain industries may not be entitled to all of the protections offered to most workers. For example, minimum wage requirements do not apply to agricultural workers on small farms (those employing fewer than seven workers), and agricultural workers are not entitled to overtime pay at all under federal law. In addition, those working in roles where partial compensation routinely comes from tips, such as restaurant servers, are entitled to a lower minimum wage.
Help is Available for Wage and Hour Violations
If you feel that you are a victim of any of these violations, you may want to file a complaint with the state or federal Department of Labor or file a lawsuit against your employer. Each of these options involves different procedural requirements and may allow for different outcomes. The best way to protect your rights is to talk with an experienced employment law attorney.
At Yarian and Associates, we can help you determine whether your employer has violated federal or state wage and hour laws and explain your rights. Call us today for a free consultation to learn more about your options for securing the compensation you deserve.