Why Employers Commit Wage and Hour Violations
California’s wage and hour laws are some of the best in the country. California is largely employee-friendly, favoring workers over employers in many cases. The rules of overtime pay, minimum wage and mandatory breaks give employees leverage when negotiating the terms of employment with employers. Unfortunately, not all companies are honest or fair in California. Many are guilty of wage and hour violations that can significantly hurt employees.
Intentional vs. Accidental Violations
It is an employer’s legal duty to adhere to all applicable rules and regulations when hiring, managing and paying employees. Failure to do so, resulting in financial losses or other types of harm to employees, could lead to lawsuits. Employers must pay enough attention to their enterprises to reasonably prevent wage and hour violations. Unintentional violations are acts of negligence. Intentional violations, however, are crimes.
A violation is a violation, regardless of whether the employer was being intentional. Either way, the employer could face penalties for breaking the law. An accidental violation could lead to a negligence-based lawsuit against the employer in pursuit of unpaid wages and other compensation for injured employees. An intentional violation could be a crime for which the employer must pay restitution to workers. A California wage and hour attorney can help employees seek financial recovery for intentional or unintentional violations.
Violating the Law for Profit
The main reason an employer in California would intentionally violate the state’s wage or hour laws is to save money. Refusing to pay employees proper wages for time worked can lead to thousands of dollars in profit for the employer. Forcing employees to stay overtime or work through breaks illegally can give the company more productivity – for free. Wage theft is a serious crime that could get an employer in a lot of legal trouble. Many employers believe workers will never notice or report violations.
Common Examples of Wage and Hour Violations
An employer could commit a wage or hour violation in several ways. Wage and hour law violations can take many forms depending on the workplace and the employer. Different work environments may be conducive to certain employment law violations over others. All wage and hour violations can be harmful to employees and lead to lawsuits in California.
- Misclassifying employees
- Delaying paychecks
- Forcing employees to work through breaks
- Retaliating against employees for reporting violations
- Failing to track overtime hours
- Refusing overtime pay for nonexempt employees
- Stealing tips
- Making illegal paycheck deductions
- Paying less than minimum wage
Wage and hour law violations occur most commonly against lower-earning workers. The industries most affected include food service, home health care and garment firms. However, wage and hour theft at higher-profit companies is increasing. Employers in the technology sector, for example, may be guilty of misclassifying employees as independent contractors or violating antitrust laws.
Reporting Wage and Hour Violations
Employees have rights in the state of California. Many employers will continue to engage in negligent or criminal practices as long as they can get away with doing so. It is often up to the injured employee to come forward and report violations. Otherwise, the employer may never stop infringing upon employees’ rights.
The U.S. Department of Labor accepts hour and wage complaints from all over the country. It will work to enforce federal laws on behalf of injured employees. Filing with the federal government could force an employer to meet minimum wage standards and obey other federal laws. The California Department of Industrial Relations also takes reports of labor law violations. Filing with the state department can force an employer to pay restitution based on California’s specific wage and hour laws.
A federal or state claim could shed light on unethical or illegal business practices at a workplace. It could put an end to harmful wage and hour law violations and repay current or past employees for their financial losses. Employees may be able to recover the costs of their lost wages, back pay, and lost earning opportunities – plus interest. Filing a complaint against an employer is the first step toward positive change.