As a worker in California, you have a lot of legal protections. Although employers violate these protections on the regular, the burden is on you to ensure that your rights are upheld. This typically means that you’ll need to be prepared to take legal action, but that can be daunting to do if you’ve never entered the legal arena before or if you’re unfamiliar with applicable employment laws, including those that apply to your wages and hours.
Although it might take some time and some assistance to get a firm handle on the employment laws in play in your case, there are things that you can start doing now to better position yourself for success. This includes learning about commonly made mistakes in wage and hour claims and how to avoid them.
Mistakes to avoid in your wage and hour case
Unfortunately, there are a lot of missteps that can be made along the way in your wage and hour case. Here are some of the biggest that you’ll want to avoid:
- Not tracking your time: If you think that you’re being unfairly compensated for your work, or if you’re being asked to work off the clock without being paid, then you need to track the hours that you actually work. If you don’t then it’s going to be hard for you to show how your employer has taken advantage of you in violation of the law. So, consider getting copies of your timesheets or worklogs. If your employer doesn’t keep those, then you’ll want to track those hours on your own.
- Not documenting communications with your employer: If you file a wage and hour claim against your employer, then they’re either going to outright challenge it or they’re going to claim that the violation was an honest mistake. If they’re successful in arguing either of those positions, then your ultimate recovery can be reduced or eliminated. But by retaining and presenting communications between yourself and your employer you might be able to demonstrate your employer’s intent. If your employer is careful not to make damaging statements in writing, then you should document every interaction that you have with your employer that is relevant to the issue at hand.
- Not keeping track of meal breaks: Under California law, your employer is required to provide you with periodic meal and rest breaks. When they fail to do so, you should be compensated. But, just as with your hours, it can be hard to track these breaks and those breaks that are missed if you’re not documenting it.
- Waiting too long: You only have three years from the date of the most recent violation to pursue your claim. Therefore, you should be careful to not sit on your claim too long.
- Rushing to file a claim: On the flip side, some workers are too quick to file their claim without diligently gathering the evidence they need to support their position. Take the time needed to thoroughly analyze the facts of your case and develop the legal strategy that positions you for success.
Aggressively pursue the results that you deserve
Employers who cheat their employees need to be held accountable. They should also pay for the harm that’s been caused to you. With that in mind, if you think that your employer has taken advantage of you and failed to pay you what you’re owed, then now is the time to think about taking legal action in hopes of putting yourself in a better financial position.