Have you been fired from your job or treated differently from other workers? You may have recourse. Employers generally cannot fire or demote workers for improper reasons or discriminate against them on the basis of race, national origin (including language), sex (including pregnancy), religion or age (over 40). If you think you have been discriminated against, you need to talk to a lawyer to see if you have recourse. Your employer may have violated Federal or State laws and you may be entitled to damages.
Retaliation is Against the Law in California
If your employer fires or demotes you for obeying the law, for refusing to violate a law or regulation, or for exercising certain legal rights, your employer may be in violation of labor laws and you may be entitled to recover damages. An employer cannot retaliate against a worker for refusing to break the law. It is illegal to retaliate against any employee who provides information to a government agency or to law enforcement if the employee had reasonable cause to believe that the information disclosed a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal statute, rule, or regulation. If you believe you are the victim of retaliation, you should consult an attorney.
Unpaid Overtime Pay
In California, overtime pay is:
- One and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of eight hours up to and including 12 hours in any workday, and for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek; and
- Double the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 12 hours in any workday and for all hours worked in excess of eight on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.
If you are paid by the hour, the “regular rate of pay” is your hourly rate. If you are paid a monthly or yearly salary, the “regular rate of pay” is calculated by dividing the salary by the number of hours in the period (based on an 8-hour work day, 40-hour work week).
The overtime laws generally apply to workers who are paid by the hour and not to “exempt” workers who perform primarily management functions; but, they also apply to salaried workers who are improperly classified as “exempt” by the employer.
Improper Classification of Employee as “Exempt”
Companies often classify ordinary workers as “exempt” to avoid paying them overtime. The mere classification of the employee by the employer as “exempt” is not determinative. Nor is the job title relevant. Generally, the exempt employee is one who customarily and regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment in performing their job. An attorney can help determine your proper classification for purposes of overtime pay. Contact us for a free evaluation.
Meal Breaks and Rest Breaks
In California, an employee is generally entitled to a meal break of at least thirty minutes for a work day that is more than five hours. If the time worked during the day is more than ten hours, the employee is entitled to a second meal break. An employee is generally entitled to a rest period of ten minutes for each four hours worked during the day. If you have not been given meal or rest breaks, you may be entitled to compensation. There are exceptions and, if you think your rights may have been violated, you should talk to a lawyer without delay.