GrahamHollis APC

California Employment Law Blog

Is your employer making illegal deductions from your paycheck?

Like many employees, you may keep track of your hours so you know what to expect on your paycheck. It's nice when the amount of your pay exceeds your expectations, but you may want to get to the truth if you end up getting less than you feel you earned.

Part of this may be because it is often complicated to figure out the amount the federal government will deduct from your check each payday. However, if you closely examine your pay stub, you may see that your employer has deducted money for other reasons. This can be disappointing and frustrating, especially if you are counting on a certain amount to cover your bills and obligations. In some cases, your boss's deductions may also be illegal.

Has your employer wrongly classified you as exempt?

You may already have enough to remember about your job. Whether you have been employed for years or you are a new hire, there are plenty of rules and regulations, policies and best practices to learn. What you may not realize is that your employer has an additional set of rules and policies to follow when it comes to classifying and paying employees.

If your employer has classified you as exempt, that means your position is exempt from federal and California labor code requirements your employer must follow. These may include rules for overtime pay, meal breaks and minimum wages. However, just because your employer says you are exempt does not necessarily mean it is so.

California workers need to know when their working conditions are illegal

Naturally, most people are grateful and excited when they get hired for a new job. Or, if you were promoted to a new position at your current workplace, you probably approach your new duties with a greater sense of responsibility and willingness to succeed.

But sometimes the positive feelings associated with employment start to diminish when you realize how difficult the job is, or maybe even the working conditions are simply unbearable. In fact, sometimes working conditions are unlawful, and that is the main reason the job is difficult. Employees in California need to know when working conditions are illegal -- and what the options are.

What are the 2 most common wage and hour violations in California?

The situation would seem simple enough: you work for an employer, and you're supposed to get paid fully for the work you do. But the reality is that many people in California are unlawfully underpaid.

While California law offers some of the strongest employee protections in the world, many employers don't play by the rules, essentially committing wage theft. How do they do this? Here are two of the most common wage and hour violations in California:

Are you owed compensation for denied meal and rest breaks?

It's more common than most people realize: employers fail to provide employees with meal and rest breaks. In fact, if you're a nonexempt employee in California, state law requires your employer to provide you with uninterrupted meal and rest breaks.

Sometimes employees are denied these breaks over the course of months or even years, so the time and the owed wages can really add up. If your right to meal and rest breaks has been denied, you could be owed significant compensation.

Does someone else know you are being harassed at work?

If you are the victim of sexual harassment on the job, chances are you are not suffering alone. Even if you are the only person the harasser is targeting at your workplace, the mistreatment may be creating a tense atmosphere for others around you. More importantly, there may be witnesses among your co-workers.

Having someone who knows what you are going through is important for more than just finding emotional support. A witness to harassment can provide critical corroboration of your complaint and invoke overall change in the work environment. Unfortunately, many witnesses do not come forward, and those who do may not know the best ways to help you.

Caregivers are significantly underpaid in California

When most people think of caregivers, they imagine employees who dedicate their time to helping others. But when most employers think of caregivers, they see dollar signs.

It's a significant problem in California where many caregivers are overworked and underpaid. According to Public Radio International, at least 20 companies conducted illegal behavior by committing wage theft -- a practice where employers withhold or underpay staff.

When is resignation actually wrongful termination?

Everyone has a bad day at work once in a while. You may even feel like you have more bad days than good days at your place of employment. Maybe it's just a phase that will pass, or it could be something much more serious. If your bad days at work are unbearable, you may find that, each day, it gets harder to motivate yourself to get out of bed and go to your job.

If the problem stems from a clash in personalities or your personal struggle with understanding your employer's expectations, you may have to simply look for ways to cope. However, if your employer seems to be intentionally making your job impossible to endure, you probably feel that quitting is your only choice. Before you take this step, it's important to understand some things about wrongful termination -- or, in this case, constructive discharge.

Has your boss wrongly classified you as exempt?

How often have you stayed at work past your scheduled quitting time? You may be able to calculate many hours a week that you should be spending with your family, but instead, you've had to finish projects or take care of other tasks. Unfortunately, your paycheck never gets any bigger no matter how many hours you put in.

Your employer may explain it to you by saying you are an exempt employee -- or that you're a manager -- so you are not eligible for overtime pay. This may seem to make sense, but it's important to have a clear understanding of the difference between exempt and nonexempt workers.

Are 'on-call' workers owed rest and meal breaks in California?

In a word: yes. If you're a nonexempt employee, California employment law requires your employer to provide you with uninterrupted meal and rest breaks.

If your employer has denied your right to meals and paid rest breaks, you could be owed significant meal and rest break wages. Keep in mind: these wages add up, especially if you were denied meal and rest breaks over the course of weeks or months -- or even years.

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