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California Employment Law Blog

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.

Criminal records shouldn't lead to mistreatment at work

Having a criminal record in this nation has been a tarnish that could affect someone's employment, housing and educational opportunities for a lifetime.

However, as unemployment has reached an all-time low in recent years, California has taken initiatives to help those with a criminal past get back to work. 

Family, medical and parental leave for employees in California

Employees in California are afforded certain rights regarding leave from work. If you become ill or injured, or if a family member becomes ill or injured, or if you're bringing a child into your family, you may be eligible for job-secure leave under California employment law.

While that may sound simple enough, family, medical and parental leaves are often the subject of employment litigation. That's why it's important to know your rights.

Most people don't know it, but these 3 types of employment can be risky

Not every workplace is reasonably safe. In some cases, the nature of a person's everyday work might put them in extremely vulnerable situations.

Here are three jobs that tend to carry a significantly higher risk of sexual harassment or assault.

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