When you first accepted your job, you likely assumed that you would be paid the agreed-upon amount for the hours you put in. However, sometimes, an employer may intentionally or unintentionally fail to pay an employee the correct amount. California workers who are not paid the amount they are owed by their employers are victims of wage theft.
Wage theft can occur in many different forms. Here are some common ways an employee may avoid paying their employees the appropriate amount.
Failing to pay overtime
Nonexempt employees should receive overtime pay at a rate of one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 hours a week. Employers may misclassify an employee as exempt to avoid paying them overtime or simply fail to pay the eligible employee for the extra hours worked.
Failing to pay for off-the-clock hours
Employers sometimes require an employee to come in before their shift or stay after their shift to perform work-related tasks but do not allow them to clock-in early or clock-out late. As a result, the employee is not paid for the work performed while off the clock.
Failing to pay minimum wage
As of January 1, 2023, the minimum wage in California was raised to $15.50 an hour. An employer may fail to pay an employee at this rate for hours worked.
Misclassifying employees as independent contractors
Independent contractors are generally not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or other wage-and-hour laws, as they are generally paid pursuant to a contract. By misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor, employers can avoid paying minimum wage and overtime, providing breaks, and allowing for paid sick leave.
If you feel that you have been undercompensated by your employer for the hours you have worked, consider meeting with an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help gather evidence and build a case to support your argument to recover back pay and other damages.