In California, employers designate their employees as either exempt or non-exempt, depending upon whether overtime compensation is available for time spent beyond the normal eight-hour workday. Frequently, employers incorrectly classify an employee's position as exempt from overtime compensation sometimes costing the employer literally millions of dollars in unpaid overtime, penalties, interest, and attorney's fees.
Wages, including earned commissions or vacation pay are often improperly withheld by employers for many reasons, such as a claim the employee "owes" money for damages or losses the employee may have caused, or simply poor accounting practices. In such instances, a civil claim for unpaid wages may be appropriate.
Meal Periods, Break Periods
Generally, California regulations require an employee receive a meal period of no less than 30 minutes. This meal period is unpaid and frequently is longer than 30 minutes. The regulations further require the employee take the meal period at some time during the first five hours of work. If the employee and employer agree in writing and the employee works no more than six hours on that day, then the meal period can be waived. If the employee were to work more than ten hours, that employee must be given a second thirty-minute or more meal period.
Employers should encourage hourly employees to take a paid rest period of at least ten minutes as close as practical to the middle of every four-hour period. An employee may choose not to use the offered rest period. An employer's failure to not only provide, but insist upon compliance with these meal period regulations or a failure to offer lawful rest periods subjects the employer to pay additional wages as a so-called "premium payment." A recent California appellate court ruled the employer could be liable for paying up to two hours of wages as "premium payments" for each day the violation occurred. The Supreme Court is currently considering a case that will clarify the employer's obligations in this area.
Representing employees, Wilton & Associates has litigated claims for unpaid wages and for violating an employee's rights to meal periods and to break periods. In such instances, the usual result is the payment of unpaid wages, penalties, interest, and attorney's fees to the employee-client.
By representing both employers and employees, Wilton & Associates is uniquely positioned to offer the most cogent and appropriate advice. Employment litigation is expensive and time-consuming and it is crucially important that the client be aware of not only the positive aspects of the claim, but also potentially negative or adverse consequences. Once a decision is made to litigate, Wilton & Associates vigorously and professionally pursues the client's best interests.
During the initial interview process, it is important to look for such wage or hour violations, especially in cases where the employee may also have been the subject of unlawful discrimination or harassment. Sometimes it is quite difficult to identify whether the employer acted correctly so potential clients are always requested to bring their pay stubs and time records to the initial interview, if at all possible.
It takes an experienced lawyer to identify whether wage and hour violations occurred and if so, whether it would be appropriate for a civil action to be instituted to obtain a recovery or whether the administrative process through the Labor Commissioner's office is best for the client.
Because of the ever-changing complexity of this area of the law, an educated and experienced lawyer must be consulted to identify and evaluate potential claims.
At Wilton & Associates, all initial consultations are free to the prospective client. Many times, the advice provided during that consultation is sufficient to resolve their concerns.
Some of the issues or matters Wilton & Associates handles in this area include:
- Failure to pay overtime based on misclassification of an employee as exempt;
- Failure to wages when earned
- Failure to pay other benefits owed to the employee such as accrued vacation;
- Failure to timely pay wages when due, or at time of termination;
- Failure to provide timely and accurate documentation of wages earned.
Set up an appointment for your free consultation today with attorney Ronald Wilton by calling us at 818-906-3500 or fill out the online Contact Form and we will contact you as soon as possible.
Wilton & Associates has successfully served clients throughout Southern California with including Los Angeles County, Ventura County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, Orange County, Santa Barbara County and Kern County