Wage + Hour Violations

Now, more than ever, employers are increasingly concerned with maximizing the bottom line. Unfortunately, some employers take cost-cutting too far, skirting the law and forcing non-exempt employees to work without overtime pay, denying meal and rest breaks, failing to pay minimum wage, and misclassifying employees.

Only non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, and minimum wage. Determining whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt involves a complex and multi-faceted analysis. Generally, hourly employees who are not in managerial or decision-making roles are non-exempt and entitled to overtime. Salaried professionals, on the other hand, are generally exempt and not entitled to overtime. However, several other factors must also be considered, such as the employee’s compensation and job duties.


Most non-exempt California employees are entitled to overtime compensation if they work more than 8 hours in a day, 40 hours in a week, or more than 6 days in a row. These employees are entitled to 1 ½ times their regular pay rate for all hours worked over 8 in one day or over 40 in one week, and for the first 8 hours of work on the seventh day of work in a workweek. They are entitled to double pay for all hours over 12 in one day or over 8 on the seventh day of work in a workweek.

Meal + Rest Breaks

Most non-exempt California employees are entitled to meal and rest breaks. In general, they must receive a 30-minute uninterrupted meal period for every 5 hours of work, and a second 30-minute meal period after 10 hours of work. There are circumstances when the employer and employee can agree to waive a meal period, such as where a meal period is not practical due to the nature of the work, or where the total work day is less than 6 hours.

These employees are also entitled to a paid 10-minute uninterrupted rest period for every 4 hours of work. The break should be as close to the middle of the 4-hour period as practicable and on either side of a meal period.

If an employee does not receive a meal or rest period, the employer must pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular pay rate for each day a meal or rest period is not provided.

Minimum Wage

Most non-exempt California employees are entitled to earn at least minimum wage for all hours worked. Minimum wage rates are set by federal, state, and local law, and employees are entitled to the highest rate applicable to the location where they work. Employers must post the applicable minimum wage rate the workplace in an area frequented by employees where it may be easily read during the workday.

If you are paid by the piece or unit, or paid by the day or week, your wages still must equal at least minimum wage for all the hours you worked. Tips cannot be counted as part of the minimum wage.

A few types of employees do not have to be paid minimum wage, including outside salespersons, close family members, student employees, and camp counselors.

Misclassification as an Exempt Employee

Some employees, known as “exempt employees,” are not entitled to the protections of minimum wage and/or overtime laws. In general, these are so-called “white collar” professionals, administrators, and executives, such as teachers, lawyers, doctors, and some computer professions. However, the scope of employees who are exempt is quite narrow. If you’ve been misclassified as exempt, you are likely losing out on significant employment benefits, such as overtime pay and breaks.

Misclassification as an Independent Contractor

Most workers are employees, not independent contractors. This is true regardless of what label the company, or even the worker, places on the worker. Whether someone is an independent contractor depends in large part on the extent to which the business or person hiring the worker has the right to control how the work is performed. In general, independent contractors are hired for a specific job, they are free to perform the job how they chose, the service they provide is different from than that of the business hiring them, and they provide their services to other companies or individuals.

The laws governing employee compensation are complex, ever-changing, and fraught with exceptions. Navigating the legal landscape in this area requires an exhaustive understanding of overlapping and conflicting state, federal, and local laws. If you believe your employer has unlawfully denied you overtime compensation, meal and rest breaks, minimum wage, or has misclassified you, give us a call at (650) 393-4995, email us at info@sarnofflaw.com, or complete our online contact form to find out whether your rights have been violated and if we can help.

super lawyers
super lawyers
super lawyers
super lawyers