It is a requirement for all employers in California to treat and compensate employees in a fair manner. The employment lawyers at Light & Miller, LLP are constantly fighting for the rights of employees, and can provide assistance in any employment law disputes with your employer.
“EMPLOYEE” VERSUS “INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR” (Misclassification)
The California Labor Code considers willful misclassification to be “avoiding employee status for an individual by voluntarily and knowingly misclassifying that individual as an independent contractor”. Workplace obligations are a direct result of employer-employee relations, and this relationship carries wage and hour protection under California state law. The state legislature created statutes governing working conditions, hours, and wages in an attempt to defer to the Industrial Welfare Commission’s definition of this employment relationship.
Employee is defined as someone who has been engaged to do work. Employer is defined as any individual who employs or exercises control over working conditions, hours, and wages of an individual. The California court system has frequently used a right of control test when considering whether a worker is an independent contractor or an actual employee. The lead case in addressing this specific issue is considered to be the California Supreme Court decision in S.G. Morello and Sons v. the Department of Indus. The main point of this case is whether or not an employer has the right to control of details.
Failure to correctly classify employees might subject an employer to be responsible for denied rest and meal period compensation, expense reimbursement, minimum wage and overtime pay, and a number of other hour and wage violations. When employees are misclassified as independent contractors, this can also invoke criminal and tax liabilities. On top of this, the misclassification of employees as independent contractors can be considered an unfair business practice in the state.
An employer can be found liable for training taxes, unemployment insurance contributions, and disability insurance contributions. It’s also possible for the employer to be assessed state income tax and withholding amounts, unless the employer demonstrates that income was reported and all due taxes were paid. If you’ve been classified as an independent contractor, and you suspect that this is a misclassification, our employment lawyers in San Francisco are available for a free consultation to assess your case.
REST PERIODS – BREAKS
Employers are required to authorize and permit non-exempt employees to have at least a 10-minute rest period during every four-hour work session. The employee is not obliged to make use of these rest periods, even though it is required that the employer permit them. According to California state law, employers have “a duty to make a good-faith effort to authorize and permit rest breaks in the middle of each work period, but may deviate from that preferred course where practical considerations render it infeasible”.
Failing to account for such rest periods when employees are scheduled and assigned to do tasks could be deemed a failure to permit the rest periods. An employer is also required to allow rest periods every four hours unless an employee works less than 3.5 hours, and in that case no rest period is warranted. This being the case, a rest period is due whenever an employee works anywhere from 3.5 hours up to six hours in a given day. It will be necessary to authorize a second rest period if an employee works between six hours and 10 hours, and a third rest period is required when an employee works between 10 hours and 14 hours.
If your employer has failed to account for rest periods when employees are schedule and assigned to do tasks, please contact our employment lawyers in San Francisco to learn more about your rights.
MEAL PERIODS – LUNCHES
Whenever an employee works a period of more than five hours in a day, an employer is required to provide a meal period lasting at least 30 minutes, unless the total workday is six hours or less. In that case, the meal period may be ignored if both the employer and employee consent to do so. Employers may also not force employees to work for more than 10 hours in a given day without providing a second meal period of at least 30 minutes. In the event that the total hours worked does not exceed 12 hours, the second meal can be waived by mutual consent of both employer and employee. If you are an hourly employee who has not been allowed to take adequate lunch breaks as required under the state law of California, contact our employment law firm in San Francisco today for a free consultation.
The difference between federal law and California overtime law is that California also provides for daily overtime in addition to weekly overtime. Any work exceeding eight hours in a single day, 40 hours in a given week, or eight hours worked on the seventh day of any work week, must be compensated at a rate equal to 1.5 times the normal pay rate.
Any work exceeding 12 hours in a single day and eight hours on the seventh day of a work week must be compensated at a rate equal to two times the normal pay rate. If you’re working long hours and aren’t being properly compensated for your efforts, you may be entitled to overtime or double-time pay. Contact the top employment lawyers in San Francisco for a free case consultation today.
FAILURE TO TIMELY PAY WAGES
There are strict requirements in the state of California relative to the time and manner of payment for any final wages an employee is entitled to. An involuntarily terminated employee must be paid all earned wages immediately at the point of discharge. The California Labor Commissioner holds that any laid-off employee who has no specified return date has been terminated, and must therefore be paid all due wages immediately. If a return date has been specified, then the wages may be paid at the next occurring payday.
The Labor Commissioner states that any sale of a business automatically terminates all company employees, and as such they must be paid all wages which have been earned, along with any vacation that has accrued. An employer has an obligation to pay final wages to an employee even if there is no written employment contract for the period of time covered. This is true even if the employee voluntarily quits, or if their employment is dependent on the timing of resignation.
When an employee gives 72 hours’ prior notice of their intention to leave, that employee must be paid final wages on the last day of employment. In situations where the employee provided less than 72 hours notice of leaving intention, final wages then become due 72 hours after resignation notice was given. If you’re an hourly employee who is entitled to unpaid wages, you should contact the best San Francisco employment lawyers for a free consultation and case consideration.
ITEMIZED WAGE STATEMENTS – “PAY STUBS”
California state law provides for the fact that when wages are paid, all employers must deliver an itemized written statement to the employee, either as a detachable portion of the check or voucher, or as a separate document when wages are paid by cash or other means. This itemized statement must contain each of the following items:
1. Gross wages earned
2. Total number of hours worked by an employee
3. Number of piece-rate units which were earned, including applicable piece rate
4. Total hours of rest periods, compensation rate, and gross wages paid for those periods
5. Other than employers who pay, on top of piece-rate compensation, an hourly rate which is at at least minimum wage, total hours of non-productive time, compensation rate, and gross wages paid
6. All deductions, assuming that these deductions can be accumulated and displayed as a single item
7. Net wages earned
8. Pay period dates
9. Employee name and last four digits of Social Security number
10. Employer name
11. Applicable hourly rates in effect for the pay period, as well as number of hours worked
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