California Wage and Hour Violations:  Common Pitfalls

Wage and Hour

The last couple of years have taught us to expect the unexpected.  Many employers who were ill-prepared for the changes wrought by the pandemic found themselves scrambling to keep up with changing requirements, financial struggles and even California wage and hour violations.  The employers who persisted now find themselves in uncharted waters.  In this environment, it is the employers who proactively keep themselves informed who will survive.

The Law Offices of Susan A. Rodriguez, APC stays in-the-know, far ahead of upcoming challenges, identifying common pitfalls for employers worried about preventing and addressing California wage and hour claims so that employers can focus on their core businesses.

Principal among California Wage and Hour Violations Are Independent Contractor Classification Issues

The past few years have seen significant changes in California law related to the classification of independent contractors.  First, in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, 4 Cal.5th 903 (2018), the Supreme Court of California adopted the ABC test — the three-pronged test to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee.

To codify the test, and in response to the gig economy, the California State Legislature passed AB5, effective in January of 2020, extending employee status to gig workers and the accompanying legal rights that attach to employees such as overtime pay, meal breaks and minimum wage.

Next, the legislature passed AB2257, excepting from AB5 a significant number of job categories in November 2020.  Since then, California voters approved Proposition 22, supported by gig economy companies, to designate drivers engaged through apps as independent contractors despite AB2257.

Because of the pandemic, individuals are more eager than ever to enjoy the benefits that accompany a classification of employee, such as workers’ compensation benefits and medical insurance.

With the expansion of the gig economy facilitated by the dynamics of work from home, employers will do well to stay abreast of the changes in this arena but will do even better to stay ahead of future pivots in the law to avoid California wage and hour violations.

Dynamics in a Pandemic Era:  Reimbursement and Telework Needs

From 2020 forward, new rules related to personal protective equipment (PPE) and work-from-home (WFH) or telework arrangements will become part of the California wage and hour law canon.

Employees are already asking,  “What must my employer supply me with?”  The California Department of Industrial Relations has answered, devoting an entire webpage to the topic.  With employees doing their own research and having expectations based upon that research, employers need to be prepared to respond.

Additionally, with the increase in telework and work-from-home arrangements, employers have to know which code provisions apply to them.  For example, different sections of the California Labor Code may apply to an employer based upon whether a non-resident remote employee occasionally must come to California or does not need to enter the state.  A California wage and hour defense lawyer can explain which laws apply to you based on your relationships and agreements.

The Usual Suspects: Meal and Rest Break Violations, Minimum Wage Issues, and Reporting-Time Pay Claims

The standard pitfalls in California have remained relatively unchanged over the years; only the details have changed.  Your California wage and hour claims lawyer can ensure you are operating off the most recent information available in several of the usual areas of concern:

  • Meal and Rest Break Violations:  Issues such as determining what it means to be on duty and whether there has been a waiver often correspond with meal and rest break violations claims.  Your lawyer can help you walk through claims against your organization as well as walk you through steps to prevent such claims in the future.
  • Minimum Wage Issues:  Since 2017, the minimum wage for all industries has been increasing in relation to employer size.  Some cities and counties, however, have their own rates, so California employers must be careful to pay the highest applicable wage based on the location to avoid any claims of California wage and hour violations.
  • Reporting-Time Pay Claims:  In the face of rules regarding quarantine, many employers have had to figure when and how much to pay an on-site employee sent home for quarantine or illness when telework is not an option.  In these cases, the employer must pay the employee for at least half of the hours scheduled to work but not less than two hours nor more than four hours at the regular rate of pay.

Issues such as these arise even in the best of times.  Save time to focus on your core business by referring wage and hour legal matters to your California wage and hour employer defense team.

Be Vigilant:  Your Wage and Hour Lawyer Anticipates Potential Pitfalls

With decades of service to California employers, the Law Offices of Susan A. Rodriguez, APC protects employers by anticipating shifts in legislation and trends and helping you respond accordingly.  Our legal team can help you analyze the relationship you have with individuals to determine how the nature, extent and scope of work and responsibility impact worker classification as well as address other common — and uncommon — wage and hour matters.

Susan A. Rodriguez helps employers work through California wage and hour violations and  prevent any future inadvertent mistakes.  To schedule a consultation with a California wage and hour employer defense lawyer, call (213) 943-1323 or complete our online contact form.

Posted by Susan A. Rodriguez, Esq.

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