The minimum wage is the lowest amount of hourly compensation that an employer is required to pay employees. Federal, state, and local laws mandate that employers pay employees a minimum wage. The Fair Labor Standards Act sets a federal minimum wage. California's current minimum wage is $10.50 for small employers with under 26 employees, and $11 an hour for employers that have at least 26 employees. However, Los Angeles has enacted a minimum wage of $12 an hour, as have some surrounding cities. If you believe that you were not paid the minimum wage, you may have a basis to sue for unpaid wages. You should call the aggressive Los Angeles wage and hour lawyers at the Nourmand Law Firm.The Minimum Wage in California
Employers are required to comply with the highest minimum wage rate applicable to their workforce, so in Los Angeles and other cities with the same minimum wage, employers must pay $12/hour. The California Labor Code sets out the minimum wage that employers across the state must pay. Although it is currently set at $10.50 for all employers and $11 for those with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage is supposed to increase incrementally each year until January 1, 2023, when it will become $15 per hour. Once the minimum rate reaches $15 per hour, it is supposed to shift annually based on inflation.
Your employer is supposed to maintain a Wage Order in a conspicuous place at your jobsite that specifies the current federal and state minimum wages. You cannot waive your right to earn the minimum wage. Some employers do try to get employees to sign away their right to the minimum wage when they are hired, but these types of agreements are not enforceable.
If you are terminated from your job, your employer is supposed to pay you all of the wages that you are owed at that time. However, if you resign, all wages are due in 72 hours. Employers that fail to timely pay wages are penalized, with the penalty accruing on a daily basis until the wages are paid. The maximum penalty is 30 days of pay.
Some employers try to get around wage and hour laws by characterizing employees as independent contractors. Under Labor Code section 1182.12, an employer is anybody that directly or indirectly employs or uses control over any person's working conditions, hours, or wages. An employee is someone doing any type of compensable work for an employer if that person is not a bona fide independent contractor. These can include salaried executives, minors, and many others.
What if the size of the company fluctuates over the year so that sometimes there are more than 26 employees and sometimes less? In California, the law does not specify the time period that employers are supposed to use to calculate how many employees they have to determine whether they must pay $11 because they have met the threshold for that minimum wage. However, the California Department of Industrial Relations has provided a nonbinding guidance or opinion that an employer with 26 or more employees at any point in the pay period is supposed to apply the large employer minimum wage to the employees for that pay period.
If you have not been paid the minimum wage, an attorney can help you bring a wage and hour lawsuit against your employer under the FLSA, state law, or an applicable ordinance to recover the unpaid wages. When an employer does not pay you at least the minimum wage, you may be able to recover all of the unpaid sums, plus a penalty of liquidated damages. The amount of liquidated damages is an amount equal to the minimum wage that you are owed. Thus, for example, if you are owed $5,000 in unpaid minimum wages for the last two years, you can recover another $5,000 in liquidated damages, thereby doubling your damages.
Certain administrative, professional, and executive employees who are paid salaries may be exempt from the California Labor Code or the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Whether you are exempt is based on your particular situation, including the duties that you actually perform and your responsibilities. Your employer cannot classify you as exempt if you are actually non-exempt to avoid paying you the minimum wage.
Some defenses that your employer may have are the good-faith defense, an exempt employee, or the statute of limitations. The good-faith defense, for example, may bar liquidated damages when an employer acted in good faith and with a reasonable basis to believe that it had not violated the law.Consult a Skilled Wage and Hour Attorney in Los Angeles
If you were not paid the minimum wage as required by law, the Nourmand Law Firm may be able to represent you in a lawsuit to recover damages. Our lawyers provide skillful legal representation to workers in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Palm Springs, Beverly Hills, Van Nuys, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, and other cities in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange Counties. Call us at 800-700-WAGE (9243) or contact us through our online form for an appointment.