Addressing minimum wage violations

In California, workers are entitled to earn a minimum wage of $15.50 per hour.

If the worker’s employer fails to pay them a minimum wage, it can cause the employee to suffer financial hardships, it can impact their productivity and can lead to worker exploitation.

The minimum wage requirements apply even if the employer only has one employee and an employee cannot agree to work for less than the minimum wage.

Pay violations

There are several ways employers may violate the law. These include paying the worker less than the minimum wage, asking or requiring workers to perform unpaid work off the clock, or intentionally misclassifying them. Misclassification means that an employer pays the worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee to avoid paying them correctly.

It may also involve failing to pay overtime or withholding tips that tipped employees are entitled to.

Responding to violations

There are several options to address minimum wage violations. First, it is helpful to gather work schedules, pay statements and timecards. In some situations, the employee may be able to talk to the employer to determine if there was a misunderstanding or unintentional pay error. If the employer has a human resources department, it may open an investigation to determine if the employee is owed back pay.

The employee also has an option to file a complaint with the State of California Department of Industrial Relations. The employer cannot retaliate against the employee for making a report.

If an employee needs help to address a minimum wage violation, there is assistance available.