Effective January 1, 2023, the minimum wage was increased to $15/hour for employers employing 25 or fewer employees and is now the same for employers employing 26 or more employees.
There are some employees who are exempt from the minimum wage law, such as outside salespersons, individuals who are the parent, spouse, or child of the employer, and apprentices regularly indentured under the State Division of Apprenticeship Standards.
There is an exception for "learners", regardless of age, who may be paid not less than 85 percent of the minimum wage rounded to the nearest nickel during their first 160 hours of employment in occupations in which they have no previous similar or related experience.
There are also exceptions for employees who are mentally or physically disabled, or both, and for nonprofit organizations such as sheltered workshops or rehabilitation facilities that employ disabled workers. Such individuals and organizations may be issued a special license by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement authorizing employment at a wage less than the legal minimum wage.
Q: What is the difference between the local, state and federal minimum wage?
A: Most employers in California are subject to both the federal and state minimum wage laws. Local entities (cities and counties) are also allowed to enact minimum wage rates and several have recently adopted ordinances which establish a higher minimum wage rate for employees working within their local jurisdiction.
Thus, since California's current law requires a higher minimum wage rate than does the federal law, all employers in California who are subject to both laws must pay the state minimum wage rate unless their employees are exempt under California law.
Similarly, if a local entity (city or county) has adopted a higher minimum wage, employees must be paid the local wage where it is higher than the state or federal minimum wage rates.
Q: Are there any employees who are exempt from the minimum wage laws in California?
A: Yes, there are some employees who are exempt from the California minimum wage requirements. Consult with an experienced employment law attorney for those employees who are exempt from California's minimum wage requirements.
Q: May an employee in California agree to receive less than the minimum wage?
A: No. The minimum wage is an obligation of the employer and cannot be waived by any agreement, including collective bargaining agreements.
Q: Is the minimum wage the same for both adult and minor employees?
A: Yes. There is no distinction made between adults and minors when it comes to payment of the minimum wage.
Q: Can restaurant owners/operators in California use a waitperson’s tips to offset the obligation to pay the minimum wage?
A: No. Employers may not use an employee's tips as a credit toward its obligation to pay the minimum wage.
Q: What action can an employee take if the employer does not pay the minimum wage?
A: An employee can either file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (the Labor Commissioner's Office), or file a lawsuit in court against the employer to recover the lost wages. Additionally, if the employee no longer works for this employer, the employee can make a claim for the "waiting time penalty."
Q. What is the procedure that is followed after an employee files a wage claim?
A. Consult with an experienced employment law attorney about the procedures after a claim is filed the Labor Commissioner's Office.
Q. What can an employee do if their employer retaliates against them after the employee informs the employer that they are going to file a wage claim?
A. Consult with an experienced employment law attorney if an employer discriminates or retaliates against the employee in any manner because the employee filed a wage claim or threats to file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner.
If you have any further questions about minimum wage or compensation, or you need legal representation once a claim has been filed, contact me at (916) 333-4653 or Stephen_Fiegel_ESQ@comcast.net for a FREE confidential consultation to learn more.
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