Denying a worker’s rightfully earned wages is an offense, and employers need to be brought to book to ensure that they compensate the aggrieved employee as soon as possible. Instances of unpaid wages are covered under several federal and state laws & regulations.
In addition, these laws also entitle employees to penalties and attorney charges in many cases. But the issue with these laws and regulations is their complexity and extensive nature.
Therefore, an employee who suffers the consequences of unpaid wages often finds it difficult to approach the relevant forum for fruitful remedial action. This is where an unpaid wage lawyer can guide you in pursuing your case and bringing your employer to the negotiating table or getting them ordered to compensate you in full, including the wages and other penalties that you might be entitled to as per the law.
How Will A Wage Lawyer Help You?
An unpaid wage attorney will take up your case and identify the category under which your unpaid wages claim will fall. Several categories of unpaid wages can be claimed according to labor laws and regulations. For instance, in California, the non-exempt employees are entitled to several minimum wage and hour protections such as:
• The minimum wage for the specified number of hours:
It’s a violation of California minimum wage laws if an employer pays an employee less than the minimum wage. For instance, in 2021, if an employer is paying less than $14 per hour of work, they will be liable to action under the law. The minimum wage is revised mostly every year, and employers are required to follow the newest number.
• For work done during breaks:
Meal breaks and rest breaks are allowed to all non-exempt employees under California wage and hour laws. For every employee who works more than five hours a day, a thirty-minute meal break is mandatory. Similarly, for someone who works more than double that time, two meal breaks of thirty minutes each are mandatory.
When it comes to a rest break, an employee who works more than three and a half hours, they are entitled to take a ten-minute rest break every four hours. In any situation where the employer denies these breaks, they are liable to pay the employee the equivalent of one hour of the wage for each break that has been denied.
• Wages for travel time:
Employees are entitled to be paid for all work-related travel time on a given day. Any employer failing to do so will be liable for remedial action.
• Wages for overtime work:
All non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime wages for every hour worked beyond the maximum limit of work hours as specified in the law. In California, for overtime wages, the rule is to pay one and a half times the regular hourly pay for each hour of overtime work. As long as the employers permit employees for overtime work, they will be entitled to pay them for the same.
• Wages for “off-the-clock” work:
All work-related pre and post-shift duties, other administrative work in addition to the job profile, and work undertaken during the break time fall under the category of “off-the-clock” work. Employers are liable to duly compensate employees for their time invested in any of these types of work.
A wage attorney will help you figure out which of these laws has been violated by your employer and provide you with a range of options to challenge the unacceptable conduct of your employer. These options might range from filing a complaint in the state labor department to informally contacting the employer to negotiate a viable settlement for your wage claim.
Additionally, a wage lawyer will provide you with the cost of pursuing these options and the full scope of recovery of damages, the avenues available for the same, and give you a complete cost-benefit analysis to help you make up your mind.
An unpaid wage lawyer will hold your hand and help you navigate all your legal options for recovering the damages caused to you by your employer. You will need their guidance to build a case worth pursuing and claiming the wages, penalties, and other forms of compensation against the trouble experienced by you.