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Rand L. Stephens & Richard Koss

Most Common Labor Violations

businessman overtime work

California and federal law include a number of protections for workers in the state. Many employers violate these laws, either intentionally or unintentionally, and are vulnerable to labor law claims as a result. See below to learn about the most common labor law violations in California, and reach out to a dedicated California employment lawyer with any questions or for help with an employment-related matter.

Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors

Employees are granted a variety of rights including medical benefits, paid sick leave, overtime pay, and minimum wage. Independent contractors lack many of these rights. Because adhering to the requirements for employees generates additional costs, many employers misclassify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Misclassification of an employee can open up an employer to significant liability, including statutory fines and liability directly to any aggrieved employee.

In the rapidly evolving California legal landscape, many employers misclassify by accident. In the last few years, California has seen a California Supreme Court case address the definition of “independent contractors,” several proposed and failed pieces of legislation to resolve the matter, and legislation successfully passed to concretely define both what qualifies as an independent contractor and what rights they are nevertheless guaranteed. Talk to a labor law attorney to ensure that your employee rights are not being violated, or that as an employer, you are not opening yourself up to needless liability.

Overtime Violations & Misclassification

California law requires employers to pay non-exempt employees, those employees who are paid by the hour, overtime for any hour worked past eight hours in a given workday and any hours past 40 in a given workweek. At higher thresholds, the overtime rate jumps from 1.5 to double the worker’s standard wage. Employers commonly try to skirt the overtime rules by misclassifying work time as break time, having employers work before or after clocking in and out, or by simply failing to pay overtime that is due.

Failure to Pay for Hours Worked

In addition to failing to pay overtime, many employers across California will find ways to undercount employees’ hours generally. Requiring mandatory meetings before clocking in, requiring employees to work from home without recording the hours, encouraging workers to under-report their hours, or failing to count an employee’s workday if they wind up only working half a shift are just a few of the means employed. Federal and state law requires employers to pay workers for all hours worked, no matter when and where.

Meal and Rest Time Violations
California law requires employers to give all non-exempt employees at least one 30-minute off-the-clock meal break during the workday, as well as a 10-minute, paid rest break every four hours. Employers who cause workers to skip their breaks or who require employees to perform work tasks while “on break” are violating California labor law and are subject to liability.

Paid Sick Leave

In California, all employees, whether part-time, full-time or temporary, are guaranteed the right to paid sick leave if they work at least 30 hours for an employer. California workers are also entitled to protected leave to care for a sick family member. Employers must allow workers to take accrued paid sick leave and may not retaliate against employees who exercise that right by, for example, docking their pay or benefits or threatening them with a demotion.

Final Paycheck Violations

Employers must pay employees for all hours and days worked, even if the employee has given notice or been terminated. The most common paycheck skipped by employers is the last one. Terminated employees must be paid any and all unpaid wages up to and including the date of termination on the same day they are terminated. Employees who resign and have given at least 72 hours’ notice must be paid on their last day of work for all days up to and including their last day of work. If they quit without 72 hours’ notice, they must be paid their final wages within 72 hours after their last day.

If you are a San Francisco employee or employer in need of advice or representation concerning retaliation, whistleblower protections, workplace discrimination, or other California labor law issues, contact the Richard Koss Bay Area employment law attorneys at 650-722-7046 on the San Francisco Peninsula, or 925-757-1700 in the East Bay.

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