• Missing Wages?
  • Are You Owed Overtime?
  • Not Receiving Full Breaks?

Get Paid What You Deserve!

Employees get taken advantage of every day but we are here to make sure that your employer pays what you are owed. Our mission is to Stop Unpaid Wages and we are a phone call away!

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Stop Unpaid Wages

Everyone who works should be guaranteed that they will be paid properly and in a timely manner. It is incredibly unfair if an unscrupulous employer refuses or fails to pay you your due wages. This also means that if you do extra work for your company, then you should see that extra work reflected in your paycheck. Your time is valuable and it should be respected by your employer.

Stop Unpaid Wages is a law firm that can help you if your employer has violated your rights by withholding wages or otherwise violating federal and/or California wage and hour laws. These laws provide definitive protections for employees to ensure that they receive their due wages as well as being fairly compensated for time spent working. They are collectively known as wage and hour laws and if a company or employer violates them, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

This compensation may include not only recovering the withheld wages but also any interest accrued, attorney’s fees (in some states), and even penalties against the employer. This ensures that not only will there be a fair remuneration for you but that the employer will think twice before they try to violate these wage and hour laws again. This includes actions that violate either the spirit or the letter of the law. The likely best way to secure said financial compensation is to retain a legal team who is well versed in these labor laws in order to file a lawsuit.

If you or someone you know have any unpaid wages or have issues regarding compensation with your employer please call us immediately at 424-781-8411 to have an expert labor attorney evaluate your case. Do not let unfair labor practices infringe on your rights without consulting an attorney who can help you navigate through complex labor laws.

How to File a Wage and
Hour Complaint

You may file a claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (known colloquially as the Labor Commissioner) or directly sue your employer in court. A complaint may also be lodged with the federal agency known as The U.S. Department of Labor (otherwise known as The DOL). The specific department within The DOL is known as The Wage and Hour Division (also referred to as The WHD).

There is a statute of limitations of two years for any violation that was not willful (meaning that the employer accidentally violated labor laws) and three years for any violation that was willful (meaning that the employer meant to violate labor laws). Note that an aggrieved employee is entitled to redress whether the employer meant to short them on wages or not; however, the amount of financial compensation will vary depending on the specifics of the situation.

Furthermore, there is no protocol in place to check the immigration status of the complainant. This is to protect undocumented workers who are being abused or exploited by unscrupulous employers. Any company that is exploiting undocumented workers cannot use their undocumented status to claim that their complaint is without merit; everyone is entitled to fair treatment and fair pay under the law.

NEED HELP

with Missing Wages?

Please call us at 424-781-8411 today and start the process of recovering your lost wages today.

You already earned them; now it's time to get them back!

Federal Labor Laws

The Federal law that deals with these types of violations are known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. It represents the single most important law on the books that protects employees all across the nation. Every year, various businesses and employers will run afoul of its various provisions.  Sometimes it’s on purpose, to avoid paying their employees what they are legally owed and sometimes it’s on accident. Either way, the employee is duly owed their compensation and the business in question should and will be held accountable. In fact, data suggests that most FLSA violations are done unwittingly and are honest mistakes.

The FLSA protects all the fundamental aspects of labor and labor oversight. It was designed to protect those vulnerable to exploitation and has been amended repeatedly over the years. This has included changes designed to raise the federal minimum wage (to account for inflation, increased living costs, etc.) as well as extending protections to new classes of employees.

There are five basic aspects of labor protected by the FLSA. They are:

  1. Minimum wage. There is a federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. This applies to employees being paid an hourly wage. There are certain types of employees who are exempt from, and therefore not subject to, the federal minimum wage, such as tipped employees such as waiters, servers, or bartenders. Certain types of underage employees may also be exempt from the federal minimum wage.
  2. Child labor. The FLSA has stringent requirements on what kind and for how long children may work. In the past the use of child labor was a widespread problem and federal labor laws were designed with this specifically in mind. The FLSA does not allow any child under the age of 16 to work in manufacturing or mining, any child under 18 to perform any hazardous job, but any child of any age may work for a business owned entirely by their parents. There are exceptions to this rule for agricultural jobs. 
  3. Overtime pay. Federal regulations on overtime are the same as California regulations, and require that any work done over the standard forty (40) hours in the single workweek. The FLSA officially defines a workweek as any seven (7) day period with consecutive days and comprised of 168 hours.
  4. Keeping records. The federal labor law requires that employers keep detailed and comprehensive records. These can include hours worked, deductions, and hourly rates. If the record keeping is subpar, then employees may easily be subjected to unpaid wages.
  5. Various provisions. These include vacation time, sick days, severance pay, extra pay for any work done outside of the workplace, and employee benefits.

Violation of any or all of these various aspects of the federal law will almost certainly result in unpaid wages for the employee. Furthermore, there is a complex interplay between the federal and local (including state) laws that govern how and when employers must pay their employees. There are lawyers who deal almost exclusively in labor law violations as the laws may be so confusing.

State Labor Laws

These laws are present at both the federal and state levels. There may also be county or municipal laws that guarantee certain rights, protections, and rates for employees. The federal wage and hour law is called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and it sets certain minimum requirements that all employers across the nation must adhere to. American law usually prioritizes federal over state and local laws, but in this particular case the employer must follow the law that is most beneficial and generous to the employee.

California labor laws are some of the most protective in the nation for employees, thereby providing you with plenty of recourse to recover your unpaid wages. A skilled legal team can help you navigate the various ins and outs of an unpaid wages lawsuit as the labor laws in this state are very complex. A successful bid to recover unpaid wages will almost certainly necessitate legal professionals who can successfully navigate the intricacies of the various laws. There are also certain cases where an employee is exempt from certain requirements but not others. A thorough knowledge of these exemptions and requirements is absolutely necessary for a successful unpaid wages lawsuit.

Exempt Versus Non-Exempt Employees

Furthermore, these laws apply to all non-exempt employees. This means that certain classifications of employees are not subject to these provisions. Additionally, these laws apply exclusively to employees, a category that is considered legally distinct from independent contractors. Under California law, an independent contractor is essentially self-employed, even if they are working for a larger organization and/or employer. They are seen as self-employed workers who are rendering their services to some larger entity. Therefore, said larger entity does not need to follow the labor laws.

This means that the fundamental question at the heart of any unpaid wages case is to determine whether or not the employee in question is exempt or non-exempt. Any action to try and recover unpaid wages, be it a lawsuit in civil court or a complaint lodged with the labor commissioner, will have to determine the answer to that question. There are three basic conditions that have to be met in order for an employee to be considered exempt under California law. This basic test can be used to determine the employee’s status.

The three basic requirements of the test are:

  1. The requirement for a minimum salary. The employee must be paid a minimum salary that is no less than two (2) times greater than the minimum wage of the state in question (in this case, California). Please note that a salary is distinct from an hourly wage; a salary is a fixed payment sum made at designated times (usually biweekly) while an hourly wage (also referred to as an hourly rate) is the amount of money paid to the employee for one hour (or fraction thereof) worth of work rendered.
  2. The independent judgment requirement. This requirement is somewhat open to different interpretations, but it essentially states that the primary duties of the employee must include independent judgment and discretion. In this context, primary duty means the most important part of a given employee’s job. The US Department of Labor specifically describes this requirement as when an employee must consider the various possible ways to fulfill their primary duty and then make an independent decision on which way is the best option.
  3. The white-collar requirement. This essentially means that the employee’s primary duties are executive, administrative, and/or professional. This is also colloquially known as white-collar work (as opposed to blue-collar work, which is primarily physical in nature). Another informal way to describe this would be a desk job.

These are the three most basic requirements for an employee to be considered exempt. If all three requirements in the test are met, then the employee in question is exempt from minimum wage, overtime, and rest breaks. They are not, however, exempt from meal break requirements.

There are various exceptions to these basic caveats. There are also certain occupations that are entirely or partially exempt from labor law requirements. These include surgeons, physicians, information technology (computer) professionals, commissioned employees, outside and traveling salespersons, private school teachers, union members, and truck drivers. These specific occupations each have their tests to determine exemption status. These are more extensively delineated in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) portion of the website.

Common Labor Law
Violations

There are various ways in which an employer can fail to properly compensate an employee for their time and work. The unfortunate phenomenon of unpaid wages comprises more than just a paycheck that is less than what the employee is owed. This is the most common perception though it is hardly the only one. Attorneys who are well-versed in unpaid wages cases can readily identify various violations of the labor laws, each of which may entitle the employee to greater compensation.

The most common wage and hour law violations include:

The specifics of these violations are discussed in greater depth in the FAQ portion of the website.

NEED HELP

with Missing Wages?

Please call us at 424-781-8411 today and start the process of recovering your lost wages today.

You already earned them; now it's time to get them back!

Related /// Practice Areas

Retaliation

If an employee makes a claim of unpaid wages, either by filing a complaint with the labor commissioner or by filing a lawsuit in a civil court, then they are protected, by both federal and state laws, from any kind of retaliatory action. These retaliatory actions can include any number of adverse consequences for the employee as implemented by the employer. This may include a pay cut, a demotion, or even being fired. This latter situation is known as wrongful termination. In fact, the act of retaliation may comprise the core of the lawsuit itself. Even if the employee originally did not have a case in the original unpaid wages lawsuit, the fact that they suffered retaliatory action means they likely have a case and may see significant financial compensation.

However, the original unpaid wages lawsuit and the retaliation lawsuit will both be filed and pursued at the same time. The crucial factor in a retaliation lawsuit is proving that the adverse consequences faced by the employee were the result of the employee being “punished” for speaking out rather than the result of poor performance or incompetence at the job. FLSA carries stiff fines for an employer retaliating against an employee: $10,000 for the first violation and the possibility of imprisonment for further violations.

Wrongful Termination

A wrongful termination lawsuit is similar to a retaliation lawsuit. It is, in fact, a type of retaliation lawsuit. Again, if an employee is fired as retaliation for seeking out unpaid wages (such as unpaid overtime or being paid below minimum wage) and are then fired for speaking out, then the employer will potentially face two sets of consequences: for the original unpaid wages and for the wrongful termination. Furthermore, the original unpaid wages lawsuit need not be valid in order for a wrongful termination suit to be pursued. However, the two are generally pursued together.

Most employers will try to counter a claim of wrongful termination by claiming that they are what is known as an “at-will employer”. This means that the employer may terminate an employee for any reason and at any time, without having to establish a just cause, as long as the reasons are not illegal. Even with this concept in place, it does not allow them to fire someone as retaliation under California law. Furthermore, if there were multiple motivations for the firing, as in the employee was both doing subpar work and the employer wished to retaliate against them, it would still be considered wrongful termination.

The employer may face both federal and state penalties for wrongfully terminating an employee.

Child Labor Violations

The FLSA has strict requirements in terms of protecting child employees. Many child labor violations still fall under the purview of an unpaid wages action as unscrupulous employers will try to circumvent having to pay employees fair and just wages by taking advantage of the vulnerability of child labor. Federal and state labor laws take child labor violations immensely seriously and their violation may even constitute a criminal action (subject to misdemeanor or felony charges), particularly if the child is injured or even killed on the job.

A child labor violation that does not result in injury or death may result in a fine of up to $12,080. However, if the violation results in serious injury or death, then the employer may face a fine up to $54,910 or up to $109,820 for repeated violations. They may also face child endangerment or criminal negligence charges.

Pay Rate Violations

Both overtime and minimum wage violations fall under the same basic practice area. They essentially mean that the employer is skirting minimum pay requirements by failing to pay the employee either the legal minimum rate or the specified rate-and-a-half (or double-rate) for work performed above the FLSA standard 40-hour workweek. Please note that there are minimum wage laws that are federal, state, and even local (such as county or municipal). In every case, it is the set of laws that are most beneficial to the employee that must be followed. That means if the employer is located in a county or municipality that has a higher minimum wage rate than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, then it is the local rate that will be applied to the employer.

The FLSA provides stiff fines and penalties for businesses that violate these pay rate provisions. This is in addition to any fines or penalties that may be imposed by state or local governments as well as damages and unpaid wages awarded to the aggrieved employee. The overarching goal is to make the unsavory notion of shorting employees on their lawful wages by companies something that simply is not worth it. Furthermore, if these are good faith errors, the company’s will still face repercussions, but both the fines and the damages paid out will be lower (as opposed to liquidated damages in the case of bad faith errors).

The FLSA will penalize the company up to $1,894 per pay rate violation, including both minimum wage and overtime violations.