Wage and hour issues are some of the most tricky and difficult to understand and comply with for California employers. This is not only because employers must comply with overlapping and often inconsistent federal, state and local wage and hour laws but also because California, in particular, has heavily regulated the area of employee wages and hours.
Wage and Hour Claims Typically Alleged Against Employers
California employers have increasingly become the target of litigation – and, in particular, class action litigation – as well as government agency audits and investigations involving claims of alleged wage and hour violations (e.g., citations issued by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) or Labor Commissioner). These claims and allegations typically involve several major areas of wage and hour law, including:
- Improperly classifying employees as exempt from overtime (e.g, certain salaried employees; working managers; insurance adjusters; and certain salespersons and consultants)
- Improperly characterizing persons as independent contractors
- Failing to pay overtime
- Failing to pay for all hours worked
- Failing to pay all monies allegedly due and owing (e.g., commissions, bonuses, vacation pay, holiday pay, etc.)
- Having employees work “off the clock”
- Failing to pay for travel time
- Failing to provide one or more statutorily mandated rest breaks
- Failing to provide one or more statutorily mandated “duty free” meal periods
- Failing to have employees sign an enforceable “on-duty” meal period agreement
- Failing to pay minimum wage
- Improperly making deductions or “set-offs” against an employee’s earned wages (e.g., for advances made by the employer to an employee; for a cash shortage, breakage, or loss of equipment; or for the cost of an employer-mandated employee uniform)
- Improperly pooling or sharing tips
- Failing to reimburse employees for business-related expenses
- Failing to timely pay wages and other monies owed upon termination of employment
- Failing to timely page wages upon conclusion of an assigned project
- Failing to pay statutory premium payments/penalties required by various statutory violations
- Failing to provide wage statements or keep required records
While, in most instances, employers seek to “do the right thing” and do not intentionally violate applicable wage and hour laws, the fact is that the California and federal wage and hour laws are extensive, extremely complex, often impractical or otherwise without logic, and frequently difficult to understand and/or apply. Further, wage and hour claims are often difficult to defend, in that the outcome of such claims frequently involves extremely fact intensive inquiries and a reliance on “he said, she said” oral testimony.
Moreover, given the statutory right of plaintiffs’ attorneys to recover attorneys’ fees and costs if they prevail – even if only a nominal amount – there is even greater incentive for plaintiffs’ attorneys to target employers for wage and hour claims. As a result, it is imperative that employers seek the advice of legal counsel specializing in employment law matters, whether for guidance about how best to ensure legal compliance and otherwise avoid such claims or in defense of wage and hour claims.
What Can We Do to Help Protect Your Company?
Miller Legal Group, P.C. assists employers with the development and administration of preventive measures and “best practices” not only to ensure legal compliance with applicable wage and hour laws but also to better protect employers in the event they become the target of wage and hour litigation. Among the professional services we offer in this regard includes:
- Developing, reviewing, revising, and auditing compensation, timekeeping and any other wage and hour related policies and practices, including the development and implementation of:
- Time card acknowledgments
- Rest period, meal break and overtime acknowledgments
- “On-duty” meal period agreements
- Waiver of meal period agreements for non-exempt employees working shifts of more than five but less than six total hours (e.g., restaurant employees)
- Make-up time agreements
- Agreements authorizing set-offs against wages for monies an employee legitimately owes to the employer
- Helping employers properly classify workers as exempt, non-exempt or independent contractors and/or conducting an HR audit of existing employer classification determinations
- Developing and implementing enforceable independent contractor agreements
- Ensuring employers properly calculate wages owed
- Assisting with the development of legally compliant alternative workweek procedures and schedules
In addition, Miller Legal Group, P.C. represents the interests of employers in connection with audits and investigations undertaken by various California and federal government agencies as well as in connection with Labor Commissioner citations (i.e., citations issued by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE)). Other agencies conducting such audits and investigations and/or issuing such citations include the:
- California Employment Development Department (typically in relation to employees misclassified as independent contractors); and
- United States Department of Labor.
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Contact a Manhattan Beach (South Bay) Employment and HR Lawyer
For more information about what we do at Miller Legal Group, P.C., our innovative fee options, or to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Los Angeles and Orange County labor and employment attorney, please contact us at our Southern California employment law firm by e-mail or by telephone at (310) 426-2650.