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Bringing a Lawsuit for Unpaid Wages in California

“Wages” include all amounts for labor performed by an employee, whether the amount is calculated by time, task, or commission. Wage claims are governed by two sources of authority: the provisions of the Labor Code and a series of eighteen wage orders, adopted by the Industrial Welfare Commission.

What does a Plaintiff have to Prove in an Unpaid Wages Lawsuit in California?

According to CACI 2700 in case the plaintiff claims that the defendant owes him unpaid wages he must be able to establish the following elements:

  • Plaintiff performed work for the defendant
  • Under the terms of the employment, the defendant owes the plaintiff wages
  • The number of unpaid wages.

What is the Limitation Period to Bring an Unpaid Wages Claim in California?

  • One year for penalties regarding a bounced check or failing to provide access to or a copy of records
  • Two years for an oral promise to pay more than minimum wage.
  • Three years for violations of the minimum wage, unpaid rest, overtime, sick leave, unpaid meal breaks, illegal deductions from pay, or unpaid reimbursements
  • Four years for a written contract.

California Minimum Wage

According to State law, almost all employees must receive the minimum wage. The current minimum hourly wage in California for businesses with twenty-six or more employees  in 2022 is $15. For businesses with twenty-five or fewer employees, it is $14 for an hour. The required minimum wage is the employer’s obligation and can’t be waived by any agreement, including collective bargaining agreements. An employer can’t use an employee’s tips as a credit toward the obligation to pay the minimum hourly wage.

California Overtime Wages California Labor Code Section 510

According to California Labor Code Section 510, employers are required to pay their employees for overtime work after their hours. Employees who work more than 8 hours in a workday, more than 40 hours in a workweek, or more than 6 days in a workweek are entitled to overtime pay. Overtime laws don’t apply to all workers and certain workers, such as farmworkers, are covered by different overtime laws.

California Vacation Pay

In California, employers aren’t obliged to provide paid time off or paid vacations to their employees. Though, the employers who choose to offer vacation should follow certain guidelines. According to California law accrued vacation is considered a form of wages that have already been earned by the employee, this means that accrued vacation can’t expire and must be paid out to an employee upon the employment termination. The same rule is applicable to paid time off.

California Rest and Meal Breaks for Non-Exempt Employees

According to California Labor Code Section, 512 non-exempt employees are entitled to rest and meal breaks. Thus, an employee must receive a thirty-minute meal break in case he works more than five hours a day. The employee is entitled to a second thirty-minute meal break if he works more than ten hours in a day.

Wages Due Upon the Termination

If you quit your job and give your employer less than 72 hours’ notice, your employer must pay you within 72 hours. If you give your employer at least 72 hours’ notice, you must be paid immediately on your last work day. In case the employee is fired he must receive his final paycheck on his last day. In case he isn’t paid when the job ends, he may be entitled to receive an additional payment of a day’s wages for each day his employer withholds the final paycheck, for up to thirty days.

If the employer ended your employment — fired you, laid you off, eliminated your position, etc. — they must have your final paycheck ready for you on your last day of work. If you ended your employment — you resigned or you quit — without notice, then the employer must have the check ready for you within 72 hours AFTER your last day of work. But if you quit AND if you gave at least 3 days advance notice to your employer of when your last day of work will be, then the employer must have your final paycheck ready for you on your last day.

Contact KAASS Law experienced attorneys now!

Facing the challenge of an employer who refuses to pay your wages can be overwhelming and involve complex state laws. Contact KAASS LAW at (310) 943-1171 today regarding your legal rights to get immediate consultation and prompt help.

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