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Hour and Wage Abuse

The biggest fear California workers have about wage theft and hour abuse is losing their jobs or being reported to immigration authorities. Violations are often not reported and are not acknowledged for fear of reprisals. Even though the Fair Labor Standards Act clearly states it is against the law to threaten or punish workers who chose to file a wage or hour abuse claim or to retaliate against a worker cooperating in an investigation, many remain silent.

There are many workers who do not know their rights when it comes to state labor laws and prefer keeping a low profile for fear of being fired should they complain. Often low wageworkers in occupations such as home health aides, construction, fast food service, nannies, childcare and cleaning services personnel, suffer the brunt of wage and hour abuse.

Workers in The Golden State are subject to state and federal law. This is may be advantageous for workers, as the law states that if there is a conflict between the two, the employer must adhere to one most beneficial to workers. An example would be that the minimum wage in California is higher than the federal wage, thus workers must receive the California wage.

July 1, 2014, California’s minimum wage became $9.00 per hour. On January 1, 2016, the minimum wage becomes $10.00 per hour. Wages must be paid at least twice in a calendar month and the employer must set a regular payday and post a notice at the workplace. There are some exceptions to this rule. For further information about minimum wages in California visit:

Common Violations

  • Unpaid off the clock hours
  • Stealing tips
  • Withholding a last paycheck
  • Paying less than minimum wage
  • Deducting uniform or supply costs from wages
  • Not paying time-and-a-half overtime
  • Misclassifying workers as independent contractors or outside sales
  • Paying commissions that do not equal minimum wage for hours worked
  • Falsifying payroll records
  • Forcing workers to kick back pay to remain employed
  • Paying workers in cash at rates lower than the mandated minimum wage
  • Coaching workers to lie to wage and hour investigators
  • Threatening retaliation for reporting violations

The Law Says

Hours worked is defined as all time a worker is under the control of their employer, and all time the worker is allowed to work, whether they are required to or not. Hours worked do not have to be in the same location.

The law specifically mandates that California workers must be paid overtime, unless they are in an exempt class. The rates are one and a half times the employees regular pay for hours worked over 40 hours a week or eight hours up to and including 12 hours a workday, and for the first eight hours worked on a seventh consecutive day.


A worker must be paid twice their regular pay for hours worked over 12 hours a day and for all hours worked over eight hours on a seventh consecutive day.

Exempt Categories

Even exempt categories have rules and exceptions. If you feel an employer has treated you unfairly, discuss your situation with an experienced employment attorney.

For further information on categories, exemptions, and paydays, visit:

  • Executive
  • Administrative
  • Professional
  • Outside sales
  • Computer employees
  • Parents, spouses, children of an employer
  • Workers under the umbrellas of a national service program

We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn more about how we can help you, call 916-486-1712 or toll free 800-LAW-5908. We also offer free case evaluation via e-mail for prospective clients.