San Diego Wage and Hour Attorneys
If you work in California, consider yourself fortunate. In addition to federal law’s rights and protections, the Golden State has some of the most robust workers’ rights laws in the nation. This includes ensuring that employees receive fair pay for all hours worked.
California employers not only must pay their workers the federally mandated minimum wage and overtime pay, but they also cannot avoid their obligations by miscalculating an employee’s hours or misclassifying workers as independent contractors when they are, in fact, employees. Employees also have rights relating to breaks and leave designed to ensure their health and well-being, along with their ability to take care of themselves and their families when someone gets sick.
Committed Advocates for California Workers
When an employer denies an employee their wage and hours rights under the law, they take money from that employee. Wage theft and other violations cause real harm to real people. At Sommers Schwartz, our San Diego wage and hours attorneys do not take these violations lightly. We are passionate about protecting California workers’ rights, dignity, and paychecks and aggressively pursue claims against employers that refuse to follow the law.
We meet regularly with clients whose employers take advantage of them or who face retaliation for having the courage to stand up for their rights. We hold such employers accountable and work tirelessly to get our clients the compensation and respect they deserve.
Over 18 million individuals currently work in California, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employers in the state must treat those workers following multiple laws on the federal, state, and local levels.
In California, the minimum wage for employers with 25 employees or less is $13 per hour as of January 1, 2021. Employers with 26 or more employees must pay their employees $14 per hour, with an anticipated rate of $15 per hour for all employers, no matter how many people they employ, by 2023.
Employees who do not receive minimum wage can pursue a claim against their employer to recover back wages. Sometimes, additional damages may also be available.
California employers must pay workers one-and-one-half the employee’s regular rate of pay if any of the following apply:
- The employee works over eight hours and up to 12 hours in a workday.
- The employee works over 40 hours in a workweek.
- The employee works up to eight hours for the seventh day of work in any one workweek.
An employer also must pay twice the employee’s regular rate of pay if:
- The employee works over 12 hours in a workday.
- The employee works over eight hours on the seventh day of work in any one workweek.
Not all employees are eligible for overtime pay; however, employers frequently try to take advantage of this. But no matter how an employer describes or classifies an employee’s job responsibilities, non-exempt employees must receive overtime wages. Employees deprived of overtime hours they worked should consult with one of the San Diego employment attorneys at Sommers Schwartz to understand their rights and explore their options.
One way employers try to save money is by misclassifying employees as independent contractors. An independent contractor is self-employed and performs services for another business or individual, usually on an as-needed basis. Under the law, independent contractors are not considered employees. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the rights and protections it affords employees, such as meal or rest breaks, minimum wage, or overtime pay, does not cover independent contractors.
Since the passage of California’s AB 5, many California workers, especially those in the so-called “gig economy,” now have rights that were previously limited to employees.
California now has a three-part test to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Under the “ABC” test, a worker is an independent contractor only when all three of these requirements are met:
- The worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact.
- The worker performs work outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.
- The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.
Those misclassified as independent contractors may be entitled to financial compensation based on the wages and benefits, they should have received as employees. At Sommers Schwartz, our San Diego employment lawyers hold employers accountable for misclassifying employees as independent contractors, getting them the pay and benefits they are entitled to.
Family and Medical Leave Rights
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles workers to unpaid protected leave while dealing with family or medical situations that keep them from their workplace for an extended period, either in a single block of time or intermittently. The FMLA provides eligible workers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year. It mandates the continuation of group health insurance benefits during the leave as if the employee was still working and entitles a worker to return to the same or an equivalent job at the end of their leave.
The FMLA applies to public and private employers with 50 or more employees. To be eligible for leave under the law, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and logged at least 1,250 non-overtime hours during the year immediately preceding the first day of leave. The employee also must work in a location that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
Several California laws provide leave rights in addition to those established by the FMLA. For example, California Paid Family Leave (PFL) gives workers partial wage replacement if they need time off to bond with their child or care for a sick loved one. PFL pays claimants approximately 60 to 70 percent of their weekly salary for up to eight weeks, with a maximum of $1,300 per week.
Additionally, legislation passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), established additional paid and unpaid leave rights under the FMLA for those impacted by the virus. If your employer has violated your rights under the FMLA, you have powerful remedies at your disposal. These include the recovery of economic losses, liquidated damages doubling the amount of economic losses for intentional violations, job reinstatement, and payment of your attorney fees and costs.
At Sommers Schwartz, our employment law attorneys stand up for workers who face unfair and illegal treatment when they need to care for themselves or their families. We fight tirelessly to protect their rights and their jobs and have recovered substantial compensation for FMLA violations.
Speak With a San Diego Wage and Hours Attorney Today
You work hard. The employment law attorneys at Sommers Schwartz work equally hard to ensure that your employer pays you what you earned, treats you with respect, and allows you to exercise all the rights provided to you by California and federal law. When employers fail to hold up their end of the bargain and deny employees their pay and rights, we fight tirelessly to get workers the justice and compensation they deserve.
To speak with a San Diego wage and hour attorney about your employment questions and concerns, please contact us or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.