Month: February 2022

Unpaid Wages in California: What Are The Most Common Claims?

Unpaid Wages in California: The Most Common Claims

California has some of the most progressive labor laws in the United States and one of the highest minimum wages. Despite this, or perhaps partly because of it, some employers will still underpay their employees or deny them their rights under the law. Workers may suspect they have a claim against their bosses but still hold off on any legal action because they don’t have all the information they need or don’t know how to go about collecting what’s owed to them. Here’s what you need to know about unpaid wages in California.

Common Unpaid Wage Claims

An unpaid wage claim arises when an employer violates an employee’s statutory or contractual rights, resulting in the employee being paid less than they are owed. Here are some of the most common unpaid wage claims in California.

Minimum Wage

The current minimum wage in California is $15/hour or $14/hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. If you are being paid less than that rate, you may be entitled to the difference in pay. Remember that some local minimum wages are actually higher than the state’s requirements. In San Francisco, for example, the current minimum wage is $16.32/hour.

Overtime Compensation

Most workers are entitled to overtime compensation if they work more than eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, or six days per week. Work that exceeds those limits should be compensated at 150% of the regular rate. In some cases, such as for work that exceeds 12 hours in a day, workers must be compensated at 200% of their regular rate.

Off-the-Clock Work

Employers may pressure or force employees to work before or after they’ve clocked in as a way to reduce expenses. This is often connected to overtime compensation, as employers seek to avoid going over the limits stated above.

Meal Breaks

Employees who work at least 5 hours a day are entitled to a meal break of at least 30 minutes. If the workday exceeds 10 hours, they are generally entitled to a second break.

Exempt/Contractor Classification – Some types of employees, such as white-collar workers, are exempt from many of these requirements, as are independent contractors. There may still be an unpaid wage claim, however, if the worker was improperly considered exempt or treated as a contractor.

Though these are the most common claims, this is by no means an exhaustive list. You may be owed unpaid wages if you were not paid for vacation days, reimbursed for business expenses, and more. If you suspect you are owed unpaid wages, you should contact an attorney.

Pursuing an Unpaid Wage Claim

One of the first priorities in successfully pursuing an unpaid wage claim is to ensure the case is filed before the statute of limitations expires. The statute of limitations is the maximum time allowed between when a violation occurs and when a claim can be filed. If the statute of limitation expires, you cannot collect on your claim.

The statute of limitations in unpaid wage cases depends on the type of claim involved. In most cases, such as claims arising from minimum wage, overtime, and meal break violations, the statute of limitations is three years. If the behavior is part of a regular pattern of underpayment, the statute of limitation usually starts running at the most recent violation. However, it’s very important to know that the statute of limitations may be shorter in some cases. For example, the statute of limitations for claims involving a bounced paycheck is just one year.

Because of this time limit, it’s crucial not to wait. If the statute of limitations is close to expiring, some employers may try to delay you through bad-faith negotiations. If the time limit passes, they win.

If you are still working for the employer against whom you have a claim, it’s understandable to be worried about retaliation. State law prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who file an unpaid wage claim against them. Such retaliation can take many forms, from firing the employee to reducing their hours. If your employer does something like this, you may have another legal claim against them.

Get Help with Your Unpaid Wage Claim

If you are considering pursuing an unpaid wage claim, it is highly advisable to do so with the help of an attorney. Your employer will almost certainly have a legal team, and they may try to intimidate you and make a lowball offer. Our experienced labor attorneys can evaluate your case, identify your potential claims, and help you get fair compensation. Contact us today to get started.

New California Laws Now in Effect for 2022

New California Laws Now in Effect for 2022

The California State Legislature was busy last year, passing dozens of new laws, which were in turn signed by Governor Gavin Newsom and are now in effect. Here are just a few of the new laws in California for 2022 that may impact your life or business.


With the state continuing to face a chronic housing shortage, the legislature passed several laws seeking to alleviate the crisis.

SB 8

SB 8 extends the Housing Crisis Act to 2030 and makes a few adjustments to that law. It is meant, among other things, to speed up approval of housing developments and prevent local authorities from passing laws after an application has been submitted that would prevent the development from going forward.

SB 9

This act aims to simplify the process of subdividing a lot or creating or splitting a home into a duplex. If the proposed development meets certain requirements (including a minimum of 800 sq. feet per dwelling), local agencies must approve the project with minimal review and are restricted in their power to discourage such developments through zoning regulations.

SB 10

This law makes it easier for local governments to voluntarily upzone districts for increased housing density.

Workers’ Rights

These new laws are meant to improve pay and working conditions for California’s workers.

SB 62

California has a large garment production industry; SB 62 prohibits the practice of piece-rate compensation to garment workers. Instead of being paid per unit of work completed, these workers must now be paid an hourly wage. Employers who violate this law face fines, which are then paid to the workers themselves.

AB 1003

Employers who intentionally steal wages in large amounts (at least $950 from one employee or $2350 from two or more in a 12-month period) can be criminally charged with grand theft. Those convicted could face up to 3 years in jail.

SB 639

Existing law allows employers to obtain a special license to hire employees with mental or physical disabilities and pay them less than minimum wage. The new law phases out this program by 2025.


Among the bills passed were several election and campaign reform laws. Here are a few of them:

AB 37

Lawmakers previously implemented a temporary requirement that election ballots be mailed to every registered voter, which can then be returned by mail. AB 37 makes this a permanent requirement.

SB 35

Current law prohibits electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place. This law extends that protected area to anyone waiting in line to cast a vote. It also prohibits people from blocking access to the polling place and placing fake ballot collection boxes.

AB 686

Limited liability companies engaged in political activities must disclose information about their members and contributors.

Environmental Protection

The environment is always high on the legislature’s list of priorities. As a result, they passed several laws in this area in 2021, including the following:

SB 1

With regard to development within California’s coastal zone, the California Coastal Commission must adopt guidelines and recommendations for the assessment and mitigation of sea-level rise.

AB 652 & 1200

This law prohibits the use of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in products for children as well as disposable food packaging.

SB 343

Among other things, SB 343 prohibits deceptive markings or claims regarding the recyclability of products and packaging.

Navigate an Evolving Legal Landscape 

Laws and regulations are always changing, especially in California. Some of these changes can have significant consequences for your finances, your business, and more. Hiring an attorney who stays on top of these developments helps you stay ahead of the curve and take full advantage of new opportunities. Contact our team today for a consultation.