This article is accurate as of July, 2022
Minimum wages keep increasing to match the rate of inflation. MIT states the cost of living for a single adult is $21.82. California’s minimum wage doesn’t come close to this, but the state government is taking measures to get closer to a reasonable cost of living.
California’s minimum wage went up to $15 ($14 for employers for 25 or fewer total employees) on January 1st. It’s due to go up to $15.50 in 2023. In addition to California’s state minimum wage, some localities have their own minimum wages. These local minimum wages went up on July 1st. Here’s a guide to the localities that raised their minimum wages on July 1st and how much the minimum wage is now in each area.
- Alameda – $15.75
- Berkeley – $16.99
- Emeryville – $17.68
- Foster City – $15.75
- Fremont – $16.00
- Long Beach (hotels) – $16.73
- Los Angeles (City) – $16.04
- Los Angeles (County and Unincorporated areas) – $15.96
- Los Angeles (hotels with more than 149 rooms) – $18.17
- Malibu – $15.96
- Milpitas – $16.40
- Pasadena – $16.11
- San Francisco – $16.99
- Santa Monica – $15.96
- West Hollywood (under 50 employees) – $16.50
- West Hollywood (over 50 employees) – $16.00
- West Hollywood (hotels) – $18.35
On July 1st, employers had to post the new minimum wages to make sure they show local wage increases. You should be able to find minimum wages posted on an employee bulletin board, in your online contract or employment manual, or in a printed notice with your paycheck. If you don’t see this notice posted, ask about it. There are exceptions to minimum wage changes, but they’re limited to a few situations.
There are a couple of exceptions. One is if you’re a contractor rather than an actual employee. Plus, there are exempt employers, such as those with fewer than 25 workers in all branches and offices. Inmates who work in roles such as fire fighting while incarcerated are also not paid minimum wage. While an “involuntary servitude” amendment was discussed, it didn’t pass.
Keep in mind that if you are working as a contractor, you must really be free to set your own hours and workdays. If you’re being classified as a contractor and are told you must work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., you’re being assigned work hours, which is contradictory to a contractor. You have a valid complaint for being designated as an employee and gaining employee benefits like paid vacations, insurance, and sick days.
Things Your Employer Cannot Do When It Comes to Wages and Wage Increases
One issue that employees run into is that their employer counts their tips as part of their hourly wage. If you work six hours and get $180 in tips, some employers may say that that equates to $30 an hour. Therefore, they don’t have to pay more than minimum wage. They cannot do that. You must be paid minimum wage, regardless of how much you received in tips.
Another situation you may run into is that your employer hires additional staff during busy seasons, such as the heightened summer tourism season, but lowers the number of staff in the slower seasons. Because they have 20 employees in the fall and winter, they don’t feel they have to pay minimum wage, even if they have 30 employees in the summer. They cannot do this.
Your employer is allowed to dock pay in some cases as a disciplinary measure, but your income cannot go below minimum wage in the process. If it does, that’s illegal. The docked pay must be related to deliberate negligence or willful acts, such as deliberately breaking a door due to anger with a manager. If you accidentally break a component on a machine, that’s not willful. If you kick over a computer tower because you’re mad with your boss, that’s willful and you can have your wages garnished to recover the cost of a new computer tower. You have to be notified in writing, however.
The state may authorize your employer to garnish wages for things like income taxes and child support. You’d know if you were having wages garnished for those reasons. If you’re not aware, you need to talk to your HR department about it.
Wages must be based on the current number of employees, not an average. If they decide to lower wages back down when fall and winter arrive, they must notify you in advance in writing. They cannot just lower your hourly rate without warning. If they lowered your wages without warning, talk to an attorney
Don’t let fear of retaliation keep you from fighting for fair wages. If you’re not being paid minimum wage, it’s called wage theft and it’s illegal. You’re allowed to file a claim against your employer without fear of retaliation. If you’re retaliated against, that’s illegal, too. You’re protected and need to stand up for the wages you’re due.
How to File a Wage Claim
What if your employer didn’t increase your wages to the appropriate minimum wage? How do you protect your rights and get the wages you’re due?
One option is to file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. File a wage claim online. Make sure you have all of the paperwork and that you’re within the deadline, which is three years for minimum wage violations. The paperwork you want to have on hand includes:
- A log of the hours you’ve worked along with the times you take meal and rest breaks
- A list of your supervisors, managers, payroll department names, and company name
- A copy of any union contract or employment notice you receive from your employer
There’s an easier way to file a wage claim against your employer and ensure your complaint is filed correctly to avoid having your complaint thrown out. Talk to an attorney who specializes in employment laws. The attorney knows the applicable laws and knows what to do to ensure you get the wages you’re owed. It helps ease stress when you’re experiencing issues with your pay.
Shegerian Conniff fights for your rights. You deserve fair treatment, and that includes being paid minimum wage. If your employer is not paying you minimum wage and making excuses as to why your hourly rate hasn’t increased, send a message to Shegerian Conniff’s attorneys. We’ll look over your case, offer a free consultation, and help you take the next steps.