Many employees do not know their state and federal rights when it comes to wage and hour matters. At Nelson Law Group, we serve employees throughout San Mateo, California, and surrounding areas, providing the legal insight and guidance they need to navigate these issues.
What Does 'Wage and Hour' Mean?
Wage and hour issues are, by far, the hottest area in employment law today. "Wage and hour" means everything related to compensation for work performed, including unpaid minimum wages, overtime, commissions, accrued vacation, meal and rest breaks, and waiting time penalties for any of the above-noted violations. Wage and hour problems typically arise when employers:
Misclassify Employees as 'Exempt' From Overtime Requirements
Many employers assume that they can freely choose which of their employees should be paid set salaries, and which should be paid wages plus overtime. In fact, there are detailed laws requiring that most employees be paid overtime. Employers often violate these laws by misclassifying employees (sometimes large groups of employees) as "exempt" from overtime requirements. Employees who are misclassified and therefore paid set salaries can later sue their employers for the overtime they otherwise should have been paid had they not been misclassified, and for denied meal and rest breaks. Employees have won hundreds of millions of dollars in misclassification lawsuits in the last few years alone.
A nationwide employer classifies all employees working in a particular job (e.g., "service representatives") as exempt from overtime requirements. As it turns out, service representatives do not perform the kinds of job duties required for exempt employees. Any (or all!) of the company's service reps can later sue for whatever overtime they otherwise would have been paid, had they been properly classified from the start.
Fail to Pay Minimum Wages, or for All Time Worked
The first requirement for employees to be exempt from overtime requirements is that they must receive a specific minimum salary. In California, that minimum is currently $33,280, which means that employees who receive set salaries less than that may already have wage and hour claims against their respective employers. Employers also sometimes require employees to submit to unpaid "working interviews," or to work unpaid "training" time. With limited exceptions, employers are required to pay employees for all work time, and all time spent in mandatory training.
Refuse to Pay Owed Commissions or Bonuses
Other wage and hour disputes arise when employees are terminated before all their earned commissions or bonuses are paid. In those situations, employers typically say that the employees are not entitled to the commissions or bonuses because they were not employed when the monies were scheduled to be paid (employers sometimes delay commissions until customers fully pay for orders; bonuses also frequently get paid at scheduled times each year). Whether and to what extent employers can refuse to pay commissions and bonuses depends on the specific agreements they have with their employees. Wrongful refusal to pay can subject employers to liability for the unpaid commissions and/or bonuses, plus additional penalties.
Free Consultation With a Bay Area Employment Lawyer
If you did not receive minimum wages, overtime, commissions, bonuses or any other wage and hour benefits you are entitled to, including meal and rest breaks, I offer a free case evaluation by telephone. Call 415-689-6590 (866-290-0424 toll free) or contact me, a San Francisco employment lawyer, online to talk about your case.