The Blog: Wage & Hour

Countless California employers unwittingly set themselves up for Wage and Hour lawsuits – even class actions – on a daily basis. Understanding employee / independent contractor classifications, classifying workers as “exempt” vs. “non-exempt”, applying state and federal overtime rules, rest and meal period violations, using comp time and other time-keeping issues are all critical watch points. Mistakes here cost companies like yours enormous sums of money when class action suits are filed. You are well-advised to consult employment lawyers to minimize these risks and aggressively defend resulting lawsuits.

2016 California Minimum Wage Increase – Give Your Exempt Employees a Raise, Again!

California’s minimum wage rises to $10 per hour starting January 1, 2016. Once again, California employers must gear up for pay raises, not just for employees paid on an hourly basis at minimum wage, but also for exempt employees. We explained why this is the case two years ago when California’s minimum wage last rose. The lesson is important, so we’ll adjust the …

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“Piece Rate” Employers: Use Your New Affirmative Defense!

In California, piece rate compensation plans have been on the chopping block since 2013. That’s when two California courts ruled that piece-rate employers had to separately pay employees for rest and recovery periods and “nonproductive” time. Back then we wrote those decisions put the “nail in the coffin” for piece rate compensation in California.
Those 2013 decisions also opened the flood gates for class …

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Lodging Credit Against Minimum Wage for Apartment or Hotel/Motel Employees

If you own an apartment or hotel/motel and provide free lodging to your employee(s), pay attention. Otherwise, the rest of you California employers can take a breather.
A common practice in the apartment/hotel/motel industry is to allow the manager to live in one of your apartments or hotel/motel room rent free. Also common is the belief this “free rent” is part …

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Avoid “Off The Clock” Claims Through Written Policies

An “off the clock” claim occurs when the employee claims more time worked that what appears on their daily time record. The time records show one thing but the employee claims they worked more hours. Sometimes those “off the clock” hours result in an overtime claim.

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Eliminate Employee Class Actions Through Binding Arbitration

The California Supreme Court has ruled California employers may avoid employee class action lawsuits through binding arbitration. (Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, 6/23/2014). This is clearly a big win for all employers, large and small.

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Paying A Salary Does Not Make Someone Exempt

A common misconception is paying an employee a salary makes them “exempt” from payment of overtime.  I bet at least half of you reading this are saying, “what, you mean that’s not the case?”
That’s right, it’s not.  While paying a salary is required, there is also a duties test (and other requirements) that has to be met for each of …

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Where No Rest Period Policy = Liability

Smart employers know having written employee policies is good business.
But who would have thought the absence of a written policy – when the law does not require one – could create liability for employers?  And when that lack of a written policy can result in class action liability it’s best to sit up and take notice.
Common Uniform Policies Under Brinker
In …

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New Law 2014 – Labor Code 218.5 Is Now Effectively a One Way Attorney’s Fees Statute (SB 462)

Employee sues employer and wins.  Employee gets their attorneys’ fees in nearly all cases. 
Employee sues employer and loses, i.e. gets zero.  Employer doesn’t get their attorney’s fees in nearly all cases. 
One of lone exceptions to this uneven rule (as of 12/31/2013) used to be Labor Code section 218.5.  Labor Code section 218.5 used to say in actions for …

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New Law 2014 – “Recovery Period” Added to Rest/Meal Periods Requirements (SB 435 )

SB 434 amends Labor Code section 226.7 (formerly addressing rest and meal periods only) to add a new “recovery period” obligation on employers.  So like rest and meal periods, California employers are now required to provide “recovery periods.”
A “recovery period” is defined as “a cool down period afforded an employee to prevent heat illness.”  Talk about a vague and …

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New Law 2014 – Liens Against Employer Property for Wage Judgments (AB 1386)

Employees may file claims for wages and other Labor Code violations either in court or before the California Labor Commissioner, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).  If an employee elects to sue before the Labor Commissioner/DLSE, an administrative hearing is held.  The hearing is known as a Berman Hearing and is heard by an administrative law judge appointed by the …

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