Americans have long lamented the lack of work-life balance, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the problems of blurring the boundaries between doing one’s job and living one’s personal life. Perhaps it is the nature of capitalism that employers try to get as much work out of you as they can while paying you as little as possible. Workers who get paid by the hour are at a disadvantage because there are only so many hours in a day, and because jobs that pay hourly tend to pay less and to come with fewer benefits and perquisites, but when it comes to legal disputes over your pay, you are in a strong position because you can show exactly how many hours you worked and how much your employer paid you. If your employer paid you too little, the numbers speak for themselves. Salaried employees who have signed employment contracts are not immune to their employers shortchanging them on pay, either, but these disputes usually manifest themselves as contract disputes instead of wage disputes. Of course, as with denying workers’ compensation claims and talking their way out of discrimination complaints, employers have plenty of strategies and plenty of resources to ensure that they can keep paying you less than you deserve. Sometimes the only way to get the money you rightfully earned is to take legal action against your employer. The Irvine wage and overtime dispute lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can help you resolve disputes over your hourly pay.
Common Reasons for Wage and Overtime Disputes
It should be obvious to your employer how many hours you have worked and how many of those hours, if any, qualify for an overtime pay rate, especially if you clock in and out on a computer at the beginning and end of your shift. Despite this, employers can find many ways to shortchange you. These are some common scenarios that lead to disputes over hourly wages and overtime pay:
- The employer classifies you as an independent contractor instead of an employee (you can tell your employer has classified you as an independent contractor if you receive a 1099 form at the beginning of tax season, because employees get a W2 form) in order to deprive you of overtime pay and other rights due to employees.
- The employer tells you to clock out or leave the work site at the end of your scheduled work hours but instructs you to complete additional tasks while you are off the clock, effectively making you do unpaid work.
- The employer agrees that you have worked more than 40 hours in a week, but denies that you are eligible for overtime pay.
- The employer falsely claims that you are exempt from being entitled to receive at least the minimum wage.
- The employer and employee disagree over when an employee quit, and the employer refuses to give the employee their final paycheck from the job.
- Your employer made an error regarding taxes or other deductions from your paycheck.
In most employment disputes over wages and hours, you can build your case for getting the money that your employer owes you by relying on the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the California Labor Code. The Irvine wage and overtime dispute lawyers at HKM employment lawyers LLP have thorough knowledge of these laws and other federal and state laws relating to employment.
Minimum Wage Laws in California
California has one of the highest minimum wage limits in the United States. This was true even before the current state minimum wage went into effect at the beginning of 2022. Most workers in California are entitled to receive a minimum wage that is more than twice the amount set by federal minimum wage laws. Whereas the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, California employers with 26 employees or more must pay each employee at least $15.00 per hour worked, whereas smaller companies must pay at least $14.00 per hour. Some cities have adopted even higher minimum wages, but as of January 2022, all cities in Orange County are following the state minimum wage and have not set a higher minimum wage at the local level.
Some exceptions to the minimum wage apply:
- Trainees – Your employer may pay you less than the minimum wage during training, which can account for up to your first 160 hours on the job. The amount your employer pays you during training must be at least 85% of the state or local minimum wage, whichever is higher.
- Outside salespeople – If you spend most of your workday away from the worksite in a sales job, your employer is exempt from paying you the minimum wage.
- Disabled employees of authorized employers – Some authorized nonprofits and rehabilitation facilities may hire people with disabilities and pay them less than the state minimum wage.
In California, unlike in most other states, restaurant servers and other employees who get most of their pay in the form of tips are entitled to receive at least the minimum wage.
When Are You Entitled to Overtime Pay in Irvine?
For the first 40 hours that an hourly employee works in a week, the employer must pay them the agreed upon hourly rate. For every hour beyond 40, the employer must pay the employee an hourly rate of 1.5 times the employee’s usual hourly rate. Some seasonal employees are exempt from overtime pay, such as retail employees who only work from late November until early January for the holiday season, or tax preparers who only work between late January and mid-April. Unless you have a cushy job with a monthly salary, you are probably entitled to overtime pay, and the Irvine employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can help you get it.
Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP About Wage and Overtime Disputes in Irvine
HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP can help you stand up for your right to receive fair pay for your work. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Irvine, California to set up a consultation.