Articles Posted in Wage and Hour Violations

The law requires that employers provide non-exempt California employees the ability to receive meal breaks and rest periods. In some instances, employers must provide exempt employees with the right to take meal breaks. The law does not extend to certain workers such as farm and domestic workers, or personal attendants. Under the state’s wage and hour law, non-exempt employees must receive a thirty-minute meal break if they work more than five hours in a day. The employer must allow for the break within the first five hours of the workday. Those who work more than ten hours are entitled to a second 30-minute break. Similarly, employers must provide exempt employees with a ten-minute rest break for those working more than three and a half or more hours. Employers who violate these laws may be subject to a California employment lawsuit.

For instance, the Supreme Court of California recently decided two questions of law related to a class-action lawsuit against an employer for wage-and-hour violations. In this case, the defendant is a healthcare service and staffing company. The company assigned the plaintiff to work eight-hour days at various shifts. The defendant maintained a policy that the meal period was for an “uninterrupted” 30 minutes, and workers were relieved from job duties during and could leave the premises during this period. Further, the policy specified that supervisors should not discourage workers from using this meal period.

Although the policy seems to comply with the state’s wage and hour laws, an issue arose because the employees used an electronic timekeeping system that rounded their punched time to the nearest 10-minute allotment. For instance, if an employee clocked out for their break at 12:02 p.m. and returned at 12:25, p.m., the record would show a 30-minute break instead of a 23-minute break. This was most relevant when a nurse would take lunch at the end of their fifth hour of work. The defendants won their motions at trial on the basis that California’s wage-and-hour laws do not prohibit rounding.

Hundreds of thousands of California independent contractors and gig workers will likely not have to reimburse the state for overpaid Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits.

The new COVID-19 stimulus package signed into law allows states to waive attempts to collect excessive PUA payments as long as workers meet two requirements:

  1. Their original PUA application was filed in good faith

A nearly decade-long court battle ends as national department store chain Burlington Stores Inc. has agreed to pay almost $20 million for misclassifying workers to avoid paying them overtime.

According to court records, roughly 1,630 employees will receive an average payment of $12,000 as part of the settlement. California workers are included under a second class-action suit filed against the company.

A nine-year court battle erupted over worker classifications

For decades, farmworkers in California were excluded from most state and federal wage and hour laws requiring employers to pay overtime for time worked exceeding 40 hours per week or eight hours per day. Since 1976, agricultural employers were only required to pay OT to those working more than 10 hours a day or 60 per week.

That changed in 2019 when Assembly Bill 1066 went into effect. Starting on Jan. 1, 2019, a new timetable began for overtime rules affecting farmworkers. The changes are being phased-in until they receive roughly the same treatment for overtime pay as workers in most other professions.

The law only applies to larger employers for now

State and federal laws protect California workers against employers who expect or require their employees to perform work-related duties without compensation.

Working “off the clock” is a common wage and hour violation for any uncompensated work done for an employer that should count for overtime purposes.

Typical off-the-clock violations

Employers sometimes commit wage theft through illegal deductions from their workers’ paychecks. California law protects employees and penalizes employers for these violations, just as they do for failing to pay overtime, denying rest or meal breaks or other illegal activity.

In the Golden State, employers can only make deductions allowed under state or federal laws, or when an employee authorizes them. That approval must be in writing and include insurance premiums or deductions for other health, welfare or pension contributions.

 Unlawful payroll deductions

As an employee, you have the right to fair treatment by your employer. This doesn’t mean everything will always go as planned, but there are both federal and state laws in place to help protect you against unfair circumstances.

If you suspect that you were wrongfully terminated, you’re sure to have feelings of both frustration and anger. Rather than let your feelings boil over, here’s what you need to do:

  • Keep your cool: When you learn of your termination, it’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you. For example, it’s tempting to lash out and accuse your employer of wrongful termination. It’s best to keep your cool, ask key questions and begin to formulate your next moves.

Employers commit wage theft in a number of ways, such as not paying minimum wage or overtime, refusing to give rest or meal breaks or failing to follow other wage and hour laws.

If you experience any of these infractions, you can submit a claim with the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Here is an overview of the process.

Types of claims filed

An economic think tank says workers – especially those whose earnings are at or near the minimum wage – are more likely to experience wage violations during an economic downturn. The Washington Center for Equitable Growth says workers, on average, lose one-fifth of their pay to wage theft.

Researchers say even when the economy is booming, people who work in construction, the food industry, clothing and those with domestic jobs have difficulty receiving all the compensation they deserve. That’s especially true for people of color, women and those lacking union representation or citizenship.

Key takeaways from the study

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act safeguards workers, families and communities from plant closings or mass layoffs by stipulating that employers give a 60-day notice to employees as well as state and local representatives.

The advance notice helps give workers time to transition from the loss of their job to the prospect of new employment and, if necessary, seek new skills through training or upgrade their current abilities to position themselves in the job market successfully.

General provisions of the WARN Act

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