An ongoing issue for many California employers relates to minimum wage laws. Often, businesses violate wage and hour laws without knowing it. Unfortunately, ignorance is not a defense should a disgruntled employee decide to take legal action against you.
California minimum wage
Although there are some exceptions, almost all employees in California must be paid the minimum wage as required by state law. Effective July 1, 2014, the minimum wage in California is $9.00 per hour. This rate will increase to $10.00 per hour effective January 1, 2016. The federal minimum wage is $7.25, and while most employers in California are subject to both the federal and state minimum wage laws, an employer must follow the stricter standard; i.e. the one that is the most beneficial to the employee. Thus, since California’s current law requires a higher minimum wage rate than does the federal law, all employers in California who are subject to both laws must pay the state minimum wage rate unless their employees are exempt under California law. Discuss whether your employees may be exempt with an experienced business lawyer.
Employee rights’ activists claim that many employees are afraid to speak out against unfair conditions in the workplace, including those involving wages. These individuals and groups allege that some workers fear retaliation because they did not enter the U.S. legally and others would rather tolerate a low wage in the short term rather than file a lawsuit and wait potentially indefinitely for a payout.
Wage and hour claims on the rise
Recently, however, the news has been replete with stories of small businesses that are being sued by unhappy employees for labor law violations. It seems, then, that workers are being more vocal in expressing what they consider to be an unfair or unjust workplace condition. This means that California employers must be proactive and effective in their attempts to create a safe work environment that is in accordance with various state and federal laws.
To ensure that your business is not violating state or federal wage and hour laws, contact experienced business and employment lawyer and RPNA managing partner Drew E. Pomerance.