California is one of the states that holds employers accountable in the strictest ways when they violate employment laws. Some employees may be due back pay; these situations make you entitled to it.
Understanding back pay
Back pay refers to any wages an employer owes an employee for services they provided in the past. It applies when an employee has not been paid the full amount of money they are due for their work. Many different types of workers can recover this money, including hourly employees, salaried employees, freelance workers and independent contractors.
Reasons why an employee might be entitled to back pay
A variety of reasons can lead to an employee being entitled to receive back pay. Per federal and state wage and hour laws, an employer is prohibited from withholding wages from any workers. If a nonexempt employee put in overtime working hours and was not paid time and a half their regular wages after working more than 8 hours in a day or over 40 hours during the workweek, they are entitled to back pay.
Wrongful termination is another reason an employee would be due back pay. Employers cannot terminate workers based on discrimination, harassment, retaliation or whistleblowing. This violates the law and the terms of their work contract.
Employers cannot violate the federal or state’s minimum wage laws. If an employee is paid less than $15.50 per hour, California’s minimum wage as of 2023, they are entitled to back pay to make up for the wages the employer is withholding from them.
Sometimes, an employee might be entitled to back pay just because an accounting mistake was made. Accountants sometimes make honest errors while calculating someone’s working hours. However, the worker is still due back pay regardless of the error.