Unpaid Wages and Overtime
“Non-exempt,” or hourly, employees are entitled to pay for all of their time worked, including time spent working through lunch and time worked away from the office. Employers must compensate employees for this time, even if it is only fifteen minutes a day.
In California, most non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay for any time worked over eight hours in one day, over forty hours in a work week, and for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day worked in a work week. Overtime generally must be paid at one-and-a-half times (1.5x) the regular hourly rate of pay. However, employees are also entitled to overtime at double time (2x) the regular hourly rate of pay for all hours worked over twelve in a workday and all hours worked over eight on the seventh consecutive day worked in a work week.
California and federal law also regulate meal times and breaks, compensatory time off, and when an employer must pay wages. Employees who experience violations of these regulations by their employer may be eligible to collect penalties against their employer.
Misclassification of Employees
“Exempt” employees are those employees who are exempt from the protections of certain state and federal wage laws, such as overtime pay. Salaried employees are often considered exempt employees. However, not all salaried employees are properly classified as exempt from these laws. If an employer misclassifies an employee as exempt, the employee is nonetheless entitled to receive overtime for all hours that he or she worked over eight in a day and over forty in a work week, in accordance with California and federal overtime laws.
You have the right to be free from unlawful discrimination at work. While employers may make managerial decisions that negatively affect you, such as scheduling work hours, issuing reprimands, and firing, it is unlawful for them to make these types of decisions based on an employee’s “protected classifications.” These protected classifications include an employee’s: age, race, national origin, sex and gender identity (including transgender), sexual orientation, pregnancy, disability, religious affiliation, military status and marital status.
Harassment, including sexual harassment, is all too common in the workplace. Unlawful harassment may be offensive conduct based on one’s sex, sexual orientation, disability or other protected classification.
In California, employers may not harass, discipline or otherwise retaliate against an employee because the employee reports possible workplace discrimination or harassment, either to the employer or to a government agency. For example, if an employee complains of sexual harassment to her employer, the employer may not then pass her over for a promotion because she complained of the harassment.
Family and Medical Leave
Certain California employees are protected by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the state California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Covered employees are entitled to take leave from work for reasons such as one’s own serious health condition, to care for one’s child, parent or spouse, or for the birth or adoption of a child. If your employer has denied you the right to medical leave or has discriminated against you for exercising your right to medical leave, you may have a basis for financial recovery.
A well-negotiated severance agreement may allow you to transition from your current job to a future opportunity with a severance package that you deserve. Skillful negotiation and leverage of potential claims against your employer are key to achieving a fair severance package.
California and federal law prohibit employers from terminating an employee based the employee’s protected classification, such as the employee’s sex, race, disability or age.
If you believe that you may have been treated unlawfully at work, please contact the experienced and attentive lawyers at Kosinski and Thiagaraj, LLP to schedule a free phone consultation.