What are Some Examples of Wage Disputes? The Over 300 Million Dollars Lost by Workers
Wage disputes occur when an employee files a complaint against their employer for money they believe they are owed.
In 2021, Californians filed 19,000 wage disputes, totaling $320 million dollars in claims.
Studies show that workers can lose up to $64.00 dollars per week. That’s an average of $3,300 dollars annually.
Whether intentional or unintentional, no one wants to have money left on the table by their employer. However, it happens too frequently, especially amongst hourly employees.
There are various potential causes as to why a worker would file a claim for wage disputes:
Minimum Wage Violations – Effective January 1st, 2023, the minimum wage in California is $15.50 per hour. Some cities like Pasadena are even higher, with minimum wage set at $16.11 per hour.
There are very few exceptions where a company can pay less than minimum wage.
For example, workers who are learning a new skill and have no similar or related experience may be paid a reduced rate of 85 percent of the minimum wage, rounded to the nearest nickel, for their first 160 hours of employment.
Overtime Violations – California requires employers to pay overtime “at a rate of one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of eight hours and up to 12 hours”.
Some employers may try to ignore this law, or have you sign a “document” forgoing any overtime pay. This is not legal, and should be reported.
Meal Period or Break Violations – According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, “an employer may not employ an employee for a work period of more than five hours per day without providing the employee with a meal period of not less than thirty minutes”.
Denying an employee of their meal period or forcing them to work through it is a direct violation of California labor laws.
Off-the-Clock Violations – We live in a society constantly connected through the Internet. It’s not a rarity to see employees check their work emails after waking up in the middle of the night, or on an airplane headed to a vacation destination.
However, if an employee is forced to work off the clock, the employer is required to pay them for this time.
Misclassifying Workers – Some companies may misclassify their employees as independent contractors. In return, his can severely affect pay.
For example, independent contractors are not eligible for overtime.
If any of these situations sound familiar, you may be eligible for a wage claim.
You can file a claim online for any wage disputes through the California Labor Commissioner’s Office.
According to their website, there are time limits for filing certain claims relating to wage disputes:
- One year for penalties regarding a bounced check
- Two years for an oral promise to pay more than minimum wage
- Three years for violations including minimum wage, overtime, unpaid rest or meal breaks, sick leave, illegal deductions from pay, or unpaid reimbursements
- Four years for a written contract
The department also suggests gathering certain information to support your claim, including:
- Information on your employer, such as name, address, supervisor, etc.
- Pay stubs
- Other documentation verifying your number of hours worked
Sometimes, a company may try to reach a settlement with you to fix your wage claim. While this can be tempting, it’s not always for the best option.
Oftentimes, you will be offered a settlement lower than the actual amount you are owed.
Whether you were offered a settlement, or you are unsure if you even have a basis for a wage dispute, our team of Los Angeles attorneys at C&B Law Group can assist you with how to proceed.
A previous client came to us after their employer failed to pay them proper overtime and wages. We fought for justice, and reached a one million dollar settlement.
Your first consultation with our team is free. Furthermore, we work on a contingency basis, which means you won’t pay us until we win your case.
Contact C&B Law Group today about your wage dispute.