San Diego Wage & Hour Disputes
Is Your Employer Paying You Fairly?
No one has an interest in working for free or below minimum wage, which is why some unscrupulous employers may try to engage in unlawful practices to pay their employees as little as possible. They can attempt to do this by skirting minimum wage law and making illegal deductions from your paycheck. If your employer is engaging in unlawful practices in either category, you may be entitled to damages.
Legal Wage Requirements & Practices
Employers are required by minimum wage laws to pay most employees at least $9 per hour. Some employees, however, are exempt from the minimum wage law in San Diego, such as outside salespersons, individuals who are the parent, spouse, or child of the employer, and certain individuals that are mentally or physically challenged.
An employee's wage, though, doesn't necessarily equal their take-home pay. Everyone likes getting their paycheck, but no one particularly enjoys seeing how much is taken out for things like taxes and legal employer deductions. Although generally illegal, there are a few legal reasons why your employer will deduct money from your gross income per paycheck.
California law only allows employers to deduct money from wages in three situations:
- When state or federal law requires or allows the employer to do so (such as wage garnishments)
- If the employee agrees to the deduction in writing to cover insurance premiums, benefit plan contributions, or other deductions that do not amount to a rebate on the employee’s wages
- When the deduction covers health, welfare, or pension contributions that are expressly authorized by a collective bargaining agreement
Required Information for Wage Statements
California law requires that San Diego employers provide a wage statement with each paycheck or cash payment that shows all of the following information:
- Gross wages earned
- Total hours worked (if compensation is at an hourly rate)
- All deductions
- If applicable, piece pay rate and the number of earned piece rate units
- Hourly pay rates and corresponding number of hours worked at each rate
- Net wages earned
- Inclusive dates of employee’s pay period
- Employee’s name and social security number
- Employer’s legal name and address
If an employee’s wage statement does not provide any of the above listed information, they may be entitled to recover significant damages, penalties, and attorneys’ fees.
Illegal Wage Practices & Deductions
Despite the laws designed to protect minimum wage, an employer may attempt to engage in illegal practices that keep you from earning at least minimum wage when you are otherwise entitled to it.
Some unlawful practices that skirt minimum wage requirements can be:
- Deducting tips or business expenses from wages
- Requiring employees to perform off-the-clock work
- Getting employees to agree to a rate less than minimum wage
Employers may also try to recover business expenses by deducting expenses from employees’ wages. California law precludes employers from making those type of deductions.
Typical unlawful wage deductions include:
- Deductions to cover another employee’s salary, bonuses, or wages
- Deductions to pay for unintentional cash shortages, breakages, or losses of company equipment or property
- Deductions for the cost of uniforms that employees are required to wear
- Deductions for the cost of equipment or tools that employees are required to have to perform their job
- Deductions of tips given to employees to offset wages
- Deductions for the cost of photographs that employers require applicants or employees to obtain
- Deductions for the cost of medical or physical examinations required by employer
- Deductions from final paycheck to cover advanced vacation hours or overpaid wages
Damages You May Recover
If your employer is judged to be in violation of minimum wage law or is making unlawful deductions from your paycheck, you may be entitled to damages that apply to the nature of your employer’s unlawful behavior.
Employees who aren’t paid minimum wage are entitled to damages, as are employees who have been subject to illegal deductions. These damages can be significant it several employees are affected. Damages are not just limited to the unpaid wages, but may also include interest on unpaid wages, penalties, and the employee’s attorney fees.