Wage Disputes & Unpaid Wage Claims in Los Angeles, CA
As an employee in Los Angeles, you are entitled to compensation for the hours you work. You may also be entitled to various benefits—whether promised by your employer or provided by California law. Unfortunately, many employers don’t uphold their end of the bargain. As a result, many employees find themselves in need of a Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer.
If you believe your employer has wrongfully denied you compensation or benefits, you should speak with a lawyer promptly. Wage and hour violations are common, and they provide employees with clear legal rights. A Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer at Attorneys For Employees can provide a comprehensive assessment of your legal rights, and if you have a claim, your lawyer can seek all available remedies on your behalf.
Why Do You Need a Los Angeles Unpaid Wage Attorney?
Many workers know right away when they have not been paid the wages they have rightfully earned. Unfortunately, many of them are wary of speaking up or pursuing a claim because they are worried that it will cost them their jobs. In other cases, they may rely on their employer’s promises to make it right, but somehow they never quite get around to correcting the violation.
Whatever situation you have found yourself in, you have rights – rights that protect you from retaliation and rights that guarantee your wages. Before you can exercise those rights, however, you need to be certain that a violation has occurred and understand what remedies you are entitled to.
An experienced Los Angeles unpaid wage attorney can identify whether your rights have been violated and will know what documentation you will need to prove your claim. They can discuss with you what remedies you are entitled to in addition to your unpaid wages, such as interest, court costs, attorney’s fees, and other monetary penalties. They can explain your options and, finally, work with you to get the compensation you have earned.
Am I a Wage and Hour Employee?
A wage-and-hour employee is anyone who is paid per hour. Often employees in the following industries are paid hourly and therefore, wage and hour employees.
- Restaurant workers – Cooks, bartenders, wait staff, host staff
- Hotel workers – Housekeepers, front desk representatives, concierge employees, food and beverage servers
- IT/computer workers – Software developers, IT support roles, network administrators, data entry clerk
- Sales – Sales representative, account manager
- Administration – Administration assistance, office manager, executive assistance, receptionist
- Retail workers – Sales associate, cashier, store manager or clerk, customer sales representative
Our Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer team provides representation to a diverse range of California wage and hour clients from the private sector, including those above and others not listed. We cater to clients across various industries and handle claims against employers of all sizes, including both large corporations and small businesses.
Minimum Wage & Overtime Laws
In recognizing that a minimum wage is rarely a living wage, California has been steadily increasing the minimum wage for workers throughout the state. Currently, the California state minimum wage is $15.50 per hour and will increase to $16.00 on January 1, 2024 for all employees. California also authorizes localities to increase their minimum wage above the statewide minimum. The minimum wage in the City of Los Angeles is $16.78 and $16.90 for Los Angeles County. There are no increases scheduled for either the City or County of Los Angeles for 2024. Under these laws, employers are required to pay their full-time and part-time minimum wage employees these rates for every hour worked.
Workers in California and Los Angeles are also entitled to overtime pay in the following situations and at the following rates:
- Between 8 and 12 hours in a single day – time-and-a-half (1.5 x your hourly wage)
- More than 12 hours in a single day – double-time (2 x your hourly wage)
- More than 40 hours per week – time-and-a-half
- More than 8 hours on the 7th consecutive day of work in a workweek – double-time
Minimum wage and overtime violations can sometimes be difficult to identify. If you suspect that you have not been paid the wages you earned, a Los Angeles unpaid wage attorney can make sure you are getting the wages you deserve.
Unpaid Wages Can Take Many Different Forms
Unpaid commissions, failure to provide meal breaks, unpaid overtime, and employee misclassification are all violations of California state and federal law. Whether an employer commits these and other violations inadvertently or intentionally, they must be held accountable.
As experienced employment law attorneys, our Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer team understands how the types of violations facing employees varies based on their job role and industry. For example, individuals employed in the technology industry often experience issues with employers misclassifying them as exempt from overtime pay. These employees frequently work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week without receiving proper overtime compensation. In contrast, wage and hour violations commonly affecting restaurant and hotel employees are different then tech workers. Employees in these industries are more likely to encounter violations such as: 30-minute meal period violations, 10-minute paid rest period violations, forced overtime, time clock violations, and being required to report to work for less than half of their regular shifts.
At Attorneys for Employees (AFE), our employment attorneys understand the laws and regulations that employers must abide by, and when they fail to do so, a Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer can assist you in recovering the compensation you’re owed.
Common Wage & Hour Violations
While there are numerous wage and hour violations, some of the most common include:
- Overtime: There are certain conditions that must be met for an hourly employee to be entitled to overtime, including working more than 8 hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek. When all conditions have been met, an employee is entitled to receive 1.5 times (or in some cases 2 times) their normal rate of pay. Failure to pay can expose an employer to legal ramifications.
- Withholding Earned Pay: Termination of an employee does not entitle the employer to withhold pay the employee has earned. Employees must also be paid all accrued but unused sick and vacation pay at the time of termination. Failure to pay employees these wages may subject employers to additional penalties.
- Reimbursement of Expenses: An employer is required to reimburse employees for any necessary expenses they incur in carrying out their job-related duties. Included in this are cell phone fees and mileage.
- Minimum Wage: There is a minimum amount all employers must pay employees. Whether or not an employer is violating California’s minimum wage laws can be confusing as it depends on several factors, including the number of hours worked as well as the number of employees working for the employer, and the location of the workplace. Determination of whether or not a minimum wage violation exists is best made by a knowledgeable labor lawyer. “Off-the-Clock” Work: Employees must be paid for all job duties, which means an employer who requests tasks be completed before or after a shift or during launch break is in violation.
How an employee is classified can make a huge difference in how they are paid, taxed, and whether or not they are entitled to overtime pay and benefits. Because of this, some employers misclassify employees to save money. An example of this would be when an employer classifies an actual employee as an independent contractor. This benefits the employer because independent contractors are not entitled to the same protections as employees in matters involving overtime, paid sick leave, paid time off, and worker’s compensation insurance.
Employers will also attempt to avoid paying for overtime by classifying “non-exempt” employees as “exempt.” Generally speaking, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay, while exempt employees are not. Exempt employees are typically those who receive a salary (as opposed to hourly wages) and who work in professional occupations such as finance, accounting, law and medicine.
Just because your employer calls you an independent contractor or an exempt employee, this does not mean that your employer’s classification is correct. To determine your employment status, your Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer at Attorneys for Employees will thoroughly examine all aspects of your employment. If your employer has misclassified you, you could be entitled to weeks, months or even years’ worth of unpaid overtime and benefits, and your lawyer can use the law to help you recover the compensation you are rightfully owed.
Meal & Rest Breaks
California law mandates that any employee working longer than five consecutive hours is entitled to a minimum of 30 minutes (unpaid) for a meal break. It also states that an employee is entitled to a 10-minute paid break for every four hours they work or a major fraction thereof. There are specific requirements regarding these mandatory breaks that an attorney at AFE can explain in more detail.
“Off the Clock” Work
If you are an employee who is paid by the hour you need to be aware and knowledgeable of your rights regarding compensation for work performed outside of your regular shift. In some cases, your employer may have a rule that requires you to start or perform a specific task before your shift begins, or, sometimes, after it ends, but they only allow you to clock in for your eight-hour shift, excluding the additional “mandatory” work. This is an example of an “off-the-clock” work violation, and if this is happening to you, you and your colleagues may be entitled to proper compensation for the extra work you performed while clocked out.
Both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California law mandate that hourly employees should be paid for all hours worked. Any employer who requires an employee to work without compensation is in violation of these regulations. Unfortunately, this type of wage and hour violation is prevalent, as many employers expect their employees to engage in unpaid “off-the-clock” work. Some common examples of such tasks include equipment check-out procedures, starting work computer programs, warming up vehicles, loading equipment, preparing a worksite before a shift, cleaning up after a shift, or returning equipment after regular working hours. “Off-the-clock” work can also encompass rounding down working time, which unfairly disadvantages the employee.
Whenever an employer demands, permits, or expects an employee to carry out any of these tasks without proper compensation, it constitutes an “off-the-clock” violation. Frequently, this unpaid time occurs when working beyond eight hours in a day, which should be compensated at overtime rates.
It’s essential to be aware of your rights and consult with a Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer to address any “off-the-clock” violations and ensure you receive the proper compensation you deserve. Not sure if your employer is engaging in an “off-the-clock” violation? Call us and let’s talk it out. Our California employment lawyers are happy to answer your questions.
There is a common misconception that employees are not entitled to overtime pay if they work extra hours without authorization or permission from their employer. However, under California law, employees are still eligible for overtime pay even if they were not explicitly given permission to work overtime, as long as their employer had reason to be aware of their continued work.
For example, a salesperson assists customers who arrived shortly before closing time, resulting in them staying over an hour after their regular 8-hour shift. In this case, the salesperson would be entitled to overtime pay, despite not receiving explicit authorization, because their employer was aware of their ongoing work and waited for them to finish in order to close the business.
Conversely, if employees are instructed to leave work and are not aware that they are still expected to work, they may not be entitled to overtime pay if their employer can demonstrate that they genuinely had no knowledge of the continued work. Employers have the right to take disciplinary action against employees who fail to obtain permission to work overtime when it is required by company policy or exhibit insubordination.
It’s important to understand these regulations to ensure that you, as an employee, are fairly compensated for the hours you work, even in situations where overtime was not explicitly authorized.
People deserve to be paid the wages they earn, including overtime wages. If you are owed time and a half or double-time wages, we can help you hold your employer accountable. Contact us today to discuss your case and how we can help.
A Los Angeles Unpaid Wage Attorney Handling All Types of Wage Violations
There are many different ways that employers can violate your right to fair payment. In some cases, these violations are obvious, while in others, violations can be subtle and difficult to detect. As a result, you need a lawyer who not only knows the law but has the experience needed to identify possible wage violations. At Attorneys for Employees, we have broad experience in handling all types of wage claims, including the following:
- Minimum wage violations
- Unpaid overtime
- Failures to reimburse expenses
- Meal and rest period violations
- Late payment of wages
- Late final paycheck
- Illegal payroll deductions
- Unpaid sick leave
- Unpaid commissions
It is unlikely that your employer will admit that they have failed to pay you the wages you are owed. In some cases, they may claim that it was a mere oversight and they will correct it as soon as possible. Regardless of what they say, you have rights and should discuss your case with a Los Angeles unpaid wage attorney to make sure you get all of the wages you are entitled to.
Understanding the Challenges: Why Employees Need the Support of a Los Angeles Unpaid Wage Lawyer to Address Wage and Hour Violations
We understand the challenges when weighing whether or not to call your employer for violations related to your pay. It can be an intimidating and difficult process. We understand that you fear retaliation, job loss, or other adverse consequences. We know that you rely on your job for financial stability and worry about the potential risks associated with speaking up.
We ask you to consider this… addressing these violations ensures that employees are treated fairly and receive the compensation they rightfully deserve for their hard work not just now but in the future. Your raising the red flag makes the workforce fairer for everyone, not just yourself. It is an act that protects your rights and promotes a more just work environment. We have seen firsthand how holding employers accountable for wage and hour violations has a broader impact by discouraging similar practices in the future and creating a culture of compliance with labor laws. Ultimately, seeking assistance from our employment lawyers provides not only legal assistance but also support and guidance to help employees navigate the process and protect their rights effectively.
Work with a Los Angeles Unpaid Wage Attorney Who Will Fight for You
Many of the law firms that focus on employment law represent employers almost exclusively. While they may be capable of representing employees with wage issues, those firms face numerous challenges in pursuing claims against employers. As a result, they typically decline to represent workers in order to avoid conflicts of interest and other potential issues.
If you have not been paid the money you are owed, the reality is that you need a Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer who is passionate about representing workers. They have the knowledge and experience you need to identify potential issues from the employee’s perspective. They will also know how to initiate the claim process and pursue it through to a successful result. More importantly, you will never be a second-class client to more important or influential corporate clients. At Attorneys for Employees, all we do is represent workers and help them get the compensation they are entitled to.
How Can I File a Wage and Hour Claim?
If your employer has committed a wage violation, you have options. The first step in filing a wage and hour claim is to determine which course of action would be best for you:
- File a lawsuit in court;
- File a wage claim with a federal agency under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); or
- File a wage claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).
Filing a lawsuit in court is perhaps the most difficult option and we would strongly recommend that you do not proceed with this option without first hiring a lawyer. This option is typically best suited for cases that present numerous complex legal issues or involve substantial amounts of unpaid wages. In most cases, the best option is to pursue an administrative claim either under the FLSA or with the DLSE. A Los Angeles unpaid wage attorney can discuss with you what option would be best for you.
Most wage and hour claims are filed with the DLSE. This is mainly because California law provides more rights to workers than federal law. Assuming you file your claim with the DLSE, you will need to begin the process by filing a document referred to as the “Initial Report or Claim” or “DLSE Form 1.” The form can be filed by email, mail, or in person with your local Labor Commissioner’s Office.
Completing the paperwork can be confusing. You will be asked to calculate how much you are seeking in your wage claim. You may be entitled to various penalties in addition to your unpaid wages. A Los Angeles unpaid wage attorney can help you complete the form to ensure that you are seeking all of the compensation you are entitled to under the law.
You will also need to submit documentation in support of your claim. Depending on the nature of your claim, these may include the following:
- Pay stubs
- Dishonored or late paychecks
- A copy of your employment contract or any other documentation describing the basis of your compensation
- Any notes recording hours worked that you were not appropriately paid for
Once your claim is filed, the next step is to attend a settlement conference where a deputy labor commissioner will attempt to facilitate a settlement of your claim between you and your employer. If your claim is not resolved at the settlement conference, the DLSE will prepare a formal complaint for your signature.
Depending on your individual circumstances, filing a claim for unpaid wages could involve filing a lawsuit in court or filing a claim with a state or federal agency. Based on the specific law (or laws) your employer violated, our lawyers will determine where to file your claim and what remedies to pursue on your behalf. The remedies that are generally available in unpaid wage claims in California include compensation for:
- Unpaid wages, overtime compensation, and other forms of compensation
- Rest breaks and meal breaks
- Unused vacation time or paid time off
- Costs and attorneys’ fees
Calculating the full amount you are entitled to recover can be challenging, and this is one of many reasons why it is important to have an experienced Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer on your side. At Attorneys For Employees, our lawyers rely on decades of experience to seek maximum compensation for our clients.
If you think you may have a claim for unpaid wages or benefits, what should you do? The most important thing you can do is to discuss your claim with a Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer as soon as possible. When you contact us, we will arrange for you to speak with one of our lawyers in confidence, and your lawyer will help you make informed decisions about your next steps.
Employers Must Pay Non-Exempt Employees for All “Hours Worked”
One of the most common issues that can arise is what exactly constitutes “hours worked” when it comes to compensation for non-exempt employees. Employers will often try to avoid paying employees while performing required tasks that the employer considers to be outside of their job description. Under the law, however, employers must pay workers for any time that the worker is subject to the employer’s control and any time during which the employee is allowed to work. This means that workers must be compensated for work performed while off the worksite or in preparation for beginning or leaving work. These issues can be complex, and we therefore recommend that you contact a Los Angeles unpaid wage attorney if you believe your employer is unlawfully withholding wages for hours that you have worked.
Pay Requirements for Employees Who Earn Commissions
Employers who pay workers a commission (either based on sales volume or the value of the sales) must provide those workers with a written compensation agreement. The agreement must specify the way that commissions will be calculated and paid. The employee must be provided with a copy of the agreement and a signed receipt documenting that it was provided to them.
Illegal Rounding of Hours
Most hourly employees are required to clock in and out when they begin their shift. Software and digital time clocks have replaced paper punch cards and analog time clocks, allowing employers to track workers’ time to the minute. They also allow employers to round hours, sometimes illegally.
The law regarding rounding of hours is quite complicated in California. The general rule is that employers can round hours, provided that the practice is neutral. However, recent court decisions have suggested that rounding is impermissible when employers are able to track time to the minute.
The bottom line is that rounding hours is illegal if it results in underpaying employees. Furthermore, you may be entitled to be paid for every minute you work. If you believe that your employer is rounding hours and it is resulting in you not being underpaid, you should contact a Los Angeles unpaid wage attorney as soon as possible.
Requirements Regarding Tips
Under California law, tips are considered the property of the employee and are granted the following protections:
- Employers may not claim or take any portion of an employee’s tips
- Employers may not deduct tips from an employee’s wages
- Employers may not credit tips against an employee’s wages
These protections prohibit practices such as claiming a “house fee” on your tips, deducting credit card transaction fees from your tips, and similar claims. California does allow for tip pooling, with the restriction that they cannot be shared with managers.
If your employer has withheld tips, they face numerous potential penalties including up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $1,000. A Los Angeles unpaid wage attorney can explain your options and help you recover your unpaid tips plus any additional damages you may be entitled to.
Speak with a Los Angeles Unpaid Wage Lawyer Today
If you believe your employer has failed to comply with wage and hour laws, contact a Los Angeles Unpaid Wage Lawyer at our firm to find out what claims and remedies are available to you. We may be reached by filling out our intake form.