Any worker in California has a right to file a wage claim if the employer fails to pay their wages or any benefits owed to them. The rule also applies regardless of anyone’s immigration status. When it comes to minimum wage claims, only exempt workers have a right to file a claim with the Labor Commissioner’s office. The agency has to determine whether there are wages owed to the worker and then try to resolve the case between the employee and the employer. If both don’t agree, then a hearing is scheduled. In any event, consulting an employment law attorney in California is always a good idea to ensure you understand what is needed before filing a claim.
Understanding Minimum Wage In California
Employers who are supposed to pay minimum wage laws must adhere to federal and state laws on minimum wage laws. The minimum wage rate in California tends to be more beneficial to employees. Therefore, employers must ensure to pay the minimum wage rate to non –exempt workers. Exempt employees from the minimum wage law include workers such as:
- A close family member of the employer such as a spouse or a child
- Outside salesperson
- Computer professionals
- Union employees
- Mentally or physically disabled employees
- Learners who have worked for their first 160 hours in an occupation in which they have no experience
It’s worth noting that the minimum wage for employees working in all industries was increased effective 1st January 2017. The increase is done annually and can also be suspended depending on the circumstances. Besides, several cities have established a higher minimum wage rate for workers within their own jurisdiction. In such a case, employers must pay employees the local wage, which is usually higher than the federal or state wage rates.
How Do I File The Minimum Wage Claim?
If you believe in having a minimum wage claim, it would be a good idea to first consult with an experienced employment lawyer to understand the changes and how they may apply in your case. To file your minimum wage claim, you must file a claim form and file it with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Any step after that will be to decide on the action to be taken, whether to proceed to a hearing or have your case dismissed.
If it’s determined that you have a case, you will proceed to file a lawsuit. For minimum wage violation, you must file your claim within three years of the violation. Again, there must be enough evidence to show that your employer owes you minimum wage, or else they may dismiss your claim. In most cases, employers retaliate against their employees for complaining about the minimum wage rate. If that happens, you have a right to file a retaliation claim. But the best way you can handle your situation is to have an employment lawyer investigate your case. He/she can review all your wage statements and decide whether you have been paid correctly. If you no longer work for the employer in question, you can make a waiting time penalty claim.