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What Rights Do Workers Have Regarding the Minimum Wage? A Lawyer’s Perspective

Workers have the right to be paid at least the minimum wage in California, as well as any overtime pay. If your employer is not paying you what you deserve, our minimum wage attorneys are here to help you take legal action.

What Is the Minimum Wage in California?

As of January 2024, California’s minimum wage rate is $16 an hour. Different California cities and counties may have a higher minimum wage than $16. For example, Los Angeles’ minimum wage is $16.78. Los Angeles County’s minimum wage is $16.90. Any payment under that amount is a violation of minimum wage laws.

This minimum wage applies to all employees in California, including those in food service. For example, if a restaurant worker also receives tips, those tips cannot be used toward the hourly minimum wage (i.e., your employer cannot pay you $8 an hour and rely on your tips to cover the other $8). 

What Rights Do I Have If My Employer Does Not Pay Me Minimum Wage?

Per the Fair Labor Standards Act, you have the right to be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime wages. If your employer does not pay you what you deserve, you have the right to be paid for that loss. 

Can I File a Claim or Lawsuit?

You have the right to file a claim against your employer. You may have three options for this process: 

  • Filing a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Wage Claim Adjudication Unit (you can also file a Report of Labor Law Violation with the Labor Commissioner’s Bureau of Field Enforcement; this is not a claim, but the Bureau may do an investigation and cite your employer)
  • Arbitration or mediation
  • Filing a lawsuit (If your entire company was not paid the minimum wage, we may create a class action lawsuit. We will discuss whether this is the best option for you and your case.)

Your method for filing a wage claim may depend on your contract. For example, your employment contract may require you to use mediation or arbitration to resolve any disputes. Our employment law attorneys can help you determine and explore your options. Once we have determined the method we must use, our team will fight for every dollar your employer took from you.

If you believe you are being underpaid, gather as much evidence as possible, such as pay stubs, so we can begin to build your case.

What Can I Recover If My Employer Fails to Pay Me the Minimum Wage?

If you were not paid what you deserve, we can help you recover: 

  • The wages your employer should have paid you
  • Liquidated damages (an amount equal to your lost wages and interest) 
  • Legal fees

Once we have investigated your case, we will determine what you are entitled to recover. 

Can My Employer Fire Me for Filing a Wage Claim?

No. It is illegal for your employer to demote or fire you or retaliate against you in any way (e.g., giving you fewer hours) for filing a wage claim. 

If you believe you were fired in retaliation for filing a wage dispute, our wrongful termination lawyers can help build a case against your employer. In addition to compensation for the wages you were not paid and your liquidated damages, you may be entitled to: 

  • Compensatory damages (both economic and non-economic)
  • Injunctive relief (e.g., getting your job back)

Our team will review your case to determine what you can recover.

Do I Have Rights If I Agreed to Be Paid Less Than the Minimum Wage?

Yes. No agreement waives an employer’s obligation to pay the mandated minimum wage, even if you signed a contract or collective bargaining agreement. Do not believe your employer if they tell you that you don’t have a case. Regardless of whether you agreed to be paid less than the minimum wage, you have rights to recover what you have lost. 

What Are Examples of Underpaying the Minimum Wage?

Minimum wage violations may include: 

  • Paying under the state-mandated minimum wage
  • Paying the state-mandated minimum wage but less than the city- or county-mandated minimum wage
  • Not paying you overtime
  • Requiring you to work through lunch or rest breaks

If your employer did any of the above, you may have a claim. Do not hesitate to call an attorney for help.

If Your Employer Violated Minimum Wage Laws, We’ll Protect Your Legal Rights

You deserve the money you worked for. If your employer didn’t pay you what you deserve, we’ll build a case against them. Do not let them bully or threaten you out of fighting for what you earned. 

Call KJT Law Group to get started today: (818) 507-8525. During your free initial consultation, we’ll explain what our wage claim and unpaid wages lawyers can do for you and your case.

We Will Fight For You

Contact our firm to get started.
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