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Working for Workers

You work long hours at your job and should be compensated fairly. But not every employer abides by the law or has the best interests of their employees in mind. If your employer violated wage and hour laws and wrongfully denied you the pay you’re entitled, you may be able to take legal action.

Facing your employer after they’ve wronged you may feel intimidating. However, having a dedicated employment law attorney on your side can help ensure a favorable outcome. Offering knowledgeable counsel and skilled advocacy, Optimum Employment Lawyers is committed to working for workers — and we strive to achieve positive results in every case we handle.

Common Wage and Hour Violations in California

California has strong wage and hour laws that serve to protect workers from employers who attempt to withhold the wages they’ve earned or are owed. Importantly, all non-exempt employees are afforded these rights under California employment law. In many cases, wage and hour violations also involve employee misclassification — which occurs when an employer labels a worker as an independent contractor or “exempt” when they should be entitled to the full scope of legal protection available to employees.

Common ways employers violate California’s wage and hour law can include:

  • Failure to pay minimum wage or overtime
  • Failure to provide meal and rest breaks
  • Requiring employees to work while “off the clock”
  • Failure to pay reporting time
  • Misclassifying employees as “exempt”
  • Wrongfully labeling employees as independent contractors
  • Failure to pay vacation time
  • Not providing reimbursement for work-related expenses
  • Failure to promptly provide an employee’s final paycheck

Being denied your rightful wages can have a significant economic and emotional impact on you and your family. Critically, if your employer fails to comply with California’s wage and hour laws, you may be eligible to recover a variety of damages. At Optimum Employment Lawyers, we are dedicated to fighting for your rights in the workplace and restoring both your financial and personal losses.

Understanding the Difference Between Exempt and Non-Exempt Employees

California’s wage and hour laws generally apply to non-exempt employees. Independent contractors and employees who are “exempt” — such as those who work in many white-collar professions — typically do not qualify for these protections. Unfortunately, employers often misclassify employees as “exempt” to circumvent the law and avoid their legal obligations.

Although independent contractors are not protected by the wage and hour laws, it’s vital to understand that just because you’ve been labeled as one doesn’t necessarily mean you satisfy the legal criteria. Critically, in order to be classified as an independent contractor in California, you must satisfy the three prongs of the “ABC” test: (1) You must be free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in carrying out the work, both in performance and in contract; (2) You must perform work outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; (3) You must be customarily engaged in an independent trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work of the hiring entity. Unless you meet all three criteria, you cannot be classified as an independent contractor and are legally considered an employee.

In addition, many of the wage and hour laws also do not apply to employees who fall within an executive, administrative, governmental, or professional exemption. But it’s important to be aware that even if you are paid a salary, you may still be entitled to the state’s wage and hour protections, as long as you are a non-exempt employee.

If you have been unfairly denied wages due to your employer’s inadvertent or willful misclassification, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit to recover the compensation to which you are entitled. The employment attorneys at Optimum Employment Lawyers are adept at handling even the most complex wage and hour cases and will work diligently to obtain fair and just monetary recovery.

Experienced Counsel and Honest Representation for California Wage and Hour Violations

Whether you’ve been deprived of overtime pay or minimum wage, your employer forced you to work while you were “off the clock,” or you were subjected to another wage and hour violation, it’s crucial to hold your employer accountable. By filing a wage and hour lawsuit, you might be eligible to recover the pay you are owed, as well as attorney’s fees and litigation costs.

If many employees were affected by the employer’s wrongful conduct, it might make sense to file a class action wage and hour lawsuit. Alternatively, you may also be able to commence a case under the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA), which essentially allows an employee to step into the shoes of the attorney general to bring a wage and hour claim. A skilled employment law attorney will be able to best advise you concerning your legal rights and options. At Optimum Employment Lawyers, we regularly handle wage and hour lawsuits and will develop a solid strategy to reach the most effective outcome in your case.

Contact a Skilled California Employment Law Attorney

No one should be taken advantage of by their employer. If your employer refused to pay you fairly or in accordance with the law, it might be necessary to enforce your rights by taking legal action. Offering straightforward counsel and reliable representation, Optimum Employment Lawyers can help ensure you secure the compensation — and the justice — you deserve for your employer’s California wage and hour violations. Contact us at (949) 954-8181 to schedule a consultation.