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Minimum Wage Violations

Nearly every employee in California is entitled to be paid at least a certain amount per hour, known as the minimum wage. Employees who are denied the minimum wage can sue their employers to recover underpayments plus interest, and employers can be hit with additional penalties as well. Even so, not every employer in the state is required to pay the minimum wage, and not every employee is eligible to receive it. To further complicate matters, the applicable minimum wage can differ depending on the industry and the municipality where it is located. It’s easy enough for employers to make mistakes, and employees sometimes go years not knowing they are being underpaid.

If you have doubts about the correct minimum wage at your workplace, the California employment law attorneys at Rounds & Sutter LLP can advise you and represent you to make sure your workplace is complying with the law and rectify any violations that are occurring or have occurred. We represent employers and employees in Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, and surrounding areas in Southern California. Contact our office today to speak with one of our skilled and experienced California employment lawyers.

How Much Is the Minimum Wage?

At the federal level, the current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, where it has been since 2009. All states must comply with at least the federal minimum wage, although states are free to impose higher minimum wage requirements if they so choose. Twenty states currently stick with the federal minimum, while the rest go higher, some significantly so. California is at the top end of the spectrum among states with the highest minimum wage, more than double what the federal government requires. Hourly workers in the Golden State are currently entitled to earn $16.00 per hour. Since April 2024, fast food workers in the state have been guaranteed an even higher $20 per hour, and starting in June 2024, annual increases will bring the minimum wage for healthcare facility workers up to $25 per hour.

Additionally, municipalities are allowed to set the minimum wage higher than what the state requires, and many have chosen to do so. Most of these localities are in Northern California, although the minimum wage is $16.78 in Los Angeles and $16.90 in unincorporated areas of L.A. County. It is $16.90 in Malibu and Santa Monica, and workers in West Hollywood earn at least $19.08 per hour. The minimum wage in San Diego is also above the state minimum, at $16.85 an hour.

Who Is Exempt From the Minimum Wage?

Labor and employment law is a complicated area of law, and the minimum wage is no exception. While most employees are covered by the minimum wage, many are not. These include, for instance, outside salespeople, the parents, spouses, or children of the employer, and apprentices. Learners (employees of any age working in a field where they have no previous similar or related experience during their first 160 hours of employment) can receive as little as 85% of the minimum wage for those 160 hours, and employees with physical or mental disabilities might be paid less than the applicable minimum. Certain nonprofit organizations also may pay less than the minimum wage.

While workers can voluntarily agree to give up certain rights when it comes to employment, the minimum wage is not one of them. Workers cannot agree to earn less than the minimum wage, and any agreement that states otherwise is not enforceable in California.

What Is the Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees?

The federal minimum wage law allows employers to pay a lower minimum wage to tipped employees by offsetting wages with a “tip credit” of $2.13 an hour. Many states with higher minimum wages have a higher tip credit as well. California, however, does not allow a tip credit at all. California workers are guaranteed to receive the applicable minimum wage in their industry and locality in addition to keeping the full amount of tips they receive. Tip credits are often misapplied by employers accidentally or intentionally, especially among chain restaurants that operate in many different states with different laws. If you are a restaurant worker, manager or franchisee, it’s important to understand this provision of the law to ensure workers receive their full wages due under California law.

Contact the Ventura Employment Lawyers at Rounds & Sutter for Help With Minimum Wage Violations in Southern California

Given the many complexities of the law, California employers and employees are encouraged to seek the advice of a knowledgeable and experienced employment lawyer if they have questions or concerns regarding the minimum wage at their workplace. Workers who feel they are being underpaid can file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner, go to arbitration, or file a lawsuit against their employer. Workers are specifically protected from retaliation at work for filing a claim, threatening to file a claim, or even asking their employer why they aren’t being paid the minimum wage.

For help with minimum wage questions or minimum wage violations in Oxnard, Camarillo, or surrounding areas, contact Rounds & Sutter at our offices in Ventura and Westlake Village by calling 805-650-7100 for a free initial consultation. Our experienced California employment law attorneys are here to advise you and represent you to make sure your rights are protected under the law.