Wage and Hour Claims

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Wage and hour claims normally allow for the recovery of plaintiff's reasonable attorney fees and costs, which can significantly increase the employer's liability and affect settlement decisions.

Employers bear responsibility to pay a minimum wage that varies by location with federal, state and municipal minimum wage and compensation laws overlapping.  Generally, the most generous rule controls the employer's obligation.  Employers must also provide meal and rest break periods and other benefits, to pay a portion of social security taxes, and to withhold federal and state income taxes, social security taxes, medicare and unemployment taxes.

Wage and hour claims implicate state and federal laws relating to:

  • Unpaid wages commissions and bonuses
  • Wages paid by check issued with insufficient funds
  • Failure to tender final paycheck
  • Unused vacation hours not paid upon termination
  • Unauthorized deductions from paycheck
  • Unpaid or unreimbursed business expenses
  • Failure to provide a meal or rest period according to applicable Industrial Welfare Commission orders

The federal law government wage and hour disputes is the Fair Labor Standards Act.  California law tracks the requirements of federal wage and hour law closely, but differs on important procedures.  For example, the FLSA statute of limitations is two years, or three years for willful violations.  California's wage and hour claims generally fall under the following statutes of limitations:

  • Four years for written contracts
  • Two years for oral contracts
  • Three years for claims involving minimum wages, unpaid overtime and other statutory claims

The FLSA provides for doubling wages due unless the employer proves it acted in good faith, while California law provides "waiting time" penalties when an employer willfully withholds wages.  And California law is more generous to employees when calculating the amount of overtime pay due.

Wage and hour laws apply to employees and not independent contractors.  Just because an employer identifies a worker as an independent contractor does not mean the worker is in fact an independent contractor.  Employers must carefully consider whether a worker is an employee or a contractor.  A later determination that a worker the employer designated as a contractor was in fact an employee may subject the employer to damages for back wages, state and federal tax penalties and other damages.  For more information on whether to classify a worker as an employee or a contractor, click here.

For more information about wage and hour claims under California and federal law, please browse the menu at the top right of this page.  For a free consultation in person regarding your matter in San Jose, Irvine, or Encino, or for a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys by phone or video conference, please click here.

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Call us at 408.797.0000

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