Not being sufficiently paid is one of the biggest complaints of employees. Fortunately, both federal and state laws protect employees, and ensure that they will receive at least a minimum wage for the work they perform.

California Minimum Wage Lawyers

Minimum wage definitionIn California, although there are a few exceptions, employees must be paid a minimum wage of $9 per hour. Starting on January 1, 2016, the minimum wage is $10 an hour. The federal minimum wage is less than the California minimum wage, at $7.25 an hour. Therefore, since California’s rules are stricter, all employers in California must pay this wage unless their employees are exempt. Employees cannot agree to work for less than minimum wage – this is an obligation of the employer and must be followed.

Some exceptions to this law include outside salespeople, individuals who are the parent, spouse, or child of the employer, and apprentices who are indentured under state law. Another exception is for “learners” who are employed in occupations in which they have no previous similar or related experience. Learners only have to be paid 85 percent of the minimum wage during their first 160 hours of employment. Another exception is for employees who are mentally or physically disabled, and for nonprofit organizations that employ disabled workers and that have a special license form the state. In some states, there is a lower minimum wage for employees that receive tips, such as waitresses, but in California they must be paid the state minimum wage.

Cities With Their Own Minimum Wage Laws

In addition to the state and federal laws, some cities in California have passed their own minimum wage rules that apply to employers within their jurisdiction. For example, San Francisco has a minimum wage in 2014 of $10.74 an hour. This increases gradually each year, and in 2018 will be $15 an hour. After 2015, it will increase in accordance with the cost of living. San Jose also increased its minimum wage to $10.15 an hour, which will become $10.30 in 2015.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for employers to ignore minimum wage laws. It is most common for the minimum wage laws to be cast aside in blue collar occupations in which the employer pays his or her employees in cash. The employer typically will not offer any benefits, or withhold any taxes. It’s common in those occupations for the employees to be in the country illegally, or to be new immigrants, and to have a limited understanding of the English language. Employers may see an opportunity to take advantage of the employees, who they may decide will be unaware of their legal rights, or fearful of enforcing them. In some cases, when an employee mentions minimum wage laws to an employer, the employer may decide to retaliate, such as by firing the employee. That is illegal as well.

If An Employer Breaks The Minimum Wage Law

If an employer fails to pay minimum wage, the employee can either file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, or file a lawsuit in court against the employer in order to recover the lost wages. If the employee chooses to file a wage claim, it will be assigned to a Commissioner who will decide how to proceed, whether to dismiss it, or whether it should be referred to a conference or hearing. The Commissioner will then reach a decision, and that may be appealed to a court. If the employee decides to file a case in court, the case will most likely proceed to either settlement or trial, and it could be appealed as well.

Contact California Employment Rights Lawyer

If you believe that your employer has not paid you the minimum wage in violation of the law, it’s time to protect your legal rights. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that all employers must pay their employees minimum wage, or face the consequences of their illegal actions. Call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland employment attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000 to learn more about how Liberty Law can help.

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