Fresno Employment Lawyers Explain California Labor Code Violations

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Fresno Employment Lawyers Explain California Labor Code Violations

California created a voluntary workmen’s compensation program decades before the approval of the California Labor Code. Governor Frank Merriam put the Labor Code into effect in 1937, but amendments to the initial laws keep adding additional protections like these:

  • 1945: The Division of Safety added restrictions on firing or discharging employees for refusal to work in unsafe conditions.
  • 1970: The Federal Government passed the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which permitted the states to develop their own OSHA plans. 
  • 1975: Governor Brown enacted California’s first farm labor law.
  • 1990: The California Refinery and Chemical Plant Worker Safety Act became law, and laws banning job discrimination based on sexual orientation went into effect.

What are the current laws? Explore the different California Labor Code violations and how to report them if they happen to you. Our Fresno employment lawyers provide the guidance you need to understand them.

Explore the California Labor Code Laws

California’s Labor Code covers many areas of employment and wages. Explore the current laws, but note the laws are upgraded and added to regularly, so it’s important to consult with an attorney or reach out to the California Department of Industrial Relations if something doesn’t seem right. We’ll start with some of the standard Labor Codes.

Business Expenses

When a worker must pay for something that’s part of the job, the company must reimburse for those expenses. Suppose a company asks a worker to deliver a shipment of brochures to a client personally, and that client is a four-hour drive away. The company needs to provide that worker with a company car and fuel card if needed. If the worker has to use his or her vehicle and pay for fuel, the company reimburses the worker for fuel and mileage.

Suppose you’re told you can work from home. The company must pay for the equipment needed or reimburse you for it.

Independent Contractors

When a company hires independent contractors, those workers must be free from control. If a worker is told they must be available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., the worker isn’t truly independent of the company’s control and would instead be an employee.

Off-the-Clock Work

If a worker is on a day off or clocked out and is asked to come in or stay late, the employer must pay for those hours. Workers cannot work off the clock. For example, it’s the weekend and something goes wrong with the servers. A company cannot ask an IT worker to fix the problem remotely without getting paid for that time.

Overtime Pay

California’s workers must receive overtime wages for work exceeding 8 hours in one day or 40 hours in one week. If a worker works more than 7 days consecutively, overtime pay starts on the 8th day. Overtime rates are time and a half, though unionized workers might receive more than that, and contract rules apply.

A company must double a worker’s wages when that worker’s daily hours exceed 12. Double time is also required if the hours on the seventh consecutive day of work exceed 8. 

Paid Time Off

By law, employers do not have to provide paid vacation. If they do, employees who leave a company or whose jobs are terminated must receive payment for any unused vacation.

Paycheck Laws

Workers receive a paycheck at least every two weeks. Workers must receive a check, if applicable, within 11 days of the payday. For workers who are terminated, the check must be drafted on the same day the worker loses his or her job.

AB 701: Warehouse Quotas

Warehouse quotas that violate labor laws are no longer allowed as of January 1, 2022. If California workers are subject to quotas, employers must provide obvious information to workers before the quotas go into effect.

AB 1066: Overtime for Agriculture Workers

On January 1, 2023, agriculture workers in businesses with no more than 25 workers must receive overtime wages when work hours exceed 9 hours a day or 50 hours a week. For larger companies, workers receive overtime wages after 8 hours in a day or 40 hours a week.

SB 3: Minimum Wage

Effective January 1, 2023, California’s minimum wage increased to $15.50 per hour. Some areas have minimum wages that exceed that. It’s important to know how much the minimum wage is in your area. There could be a different rate for a small business or a large one. Ensure you’re receiving that much. Here’s a comprehensive list of what Californian workers should be getting for hourly wages.

  • $15.50: Hayward (small business only) otherwise $16.34
  • $15.53: Novato (small business only) otherwise $16.07 (medium business) or $16.32 (over 100 employees)
  • $15.97: Oakland
  • $16.00: Sonoma (small business only) otherwise $17.00
  • $16.07: Daly City
  • $16.17: Richmond
  • $16.20: Menlo Park
  • $16.30: San Diego
  • $16.32: San Carlos
  • $16.42: Alameda
  • $16.45: Half Moon Bay
  • $16.47: Burlingame
  • $16.50: East Palo Alto, Foster City, and San Mateo County (Unincorporated)
  • $16.70: South San Francisco
  • $16.75: Belmont and San Mateo
  • $16.78: Los Angeles
  • $16.80: Fremont
  • $16.90: Los Angeles County (unincorporated), Malibu, or Santa Monica
  • $16.93: Pasadena
  • $17.00: Redwood City or San Jose
  • $17.06: Petaluma or Santa Rosa
  • $17.20: Cupertino, Los Altos, Milpitas, or Santa Clara
  • $17.25: Palo Alto
  • $17.35: El Cerrito
  • $17.95: Sunnyvale
  • $18.07: Berkeley or San Francisco
  • $18.15: Mountain View
  • $18.67: Emeryville
  • $19.08: West Hollywood

It’s illegal to receive less than a minimum wage. In 2023, a $1.47 million settlement was reached after they found five poultry processors were paying workers as little as $2.35 per 40-pound box to debone chicken.

SB 62: The Garment Worker Protection Act

Companies must pay hourly workers in the garment industry and not per garment. That hourly wage must meet minimum wage laws. Brands and garment retailers are liable for wage theft when using third-party contractors and within their supply chains. Violators are subject to fines of $200 per employee for pay periods where workers received piece rates.

The Department of Labor scrutinized the practices of several major clothing makers in the U.S. and found that many of their workers were making less than $2 an hour. In this study, the records for 50 contractors and manufacturers in Southern California proved that 8 out of 10 of them were breaking laws. Around 33% of these businesses falsified payroll records, and about 25% of them didn’t have records. Despite bans on per-piece wages, 32% of the companies still paid workers that way.

Garment industry workers need to speak up if they’re not receiving the minimum wage in their area. If you’re not being treated fairly and according to the laws, seek an attorney specializing in employment law.

SB 93: Recall Rights

Workers in hospital and service industries laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic hold seniority when employers seek to rehire. Companies can only hire new employees after first asking former employees if they want their former job or a similar one. The most senior workers receive priority.

How Do You Report Violations?

If you feel your employer is violating California Labor Codes, contact the California Department of Industrial Relations. Workers can report unsafe work conditions, file claims for unpaid wages, and learn more about their rights.

However, you may not feel comfortable reporting a claim. With so many intricate laws, working with an expert in California employment law is an excellent alternative. The Fresno employment attorneys at Shegerian Conniff fight for our client’s rights, and initial consultations are free.

If we decide you have a valid complaint and work with you, you don’t pay us until we’ve won a settlement or reward. Our fee comes out of that money. Don’t let limited finances keep you from reaching out. Shegerian Conniff’s legal team is here for you.

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