California Paycheck & Compensation Laws

As the cost of living in California rises every year, the need for a higher salary or hourly wage is almost mandatory. While most people are structuring their year on how they will accomplish big goals, others are dealing with employers who are struggling to pay them on time or holding their paychecks hostage. In this article, we’ll discuss the several paycheck laws in California that your employer could be breaking. It can be frustrating to work for an employer who doesn’t play by the rules, and California workers are entitled to receive an accurate paycheck on time.

Although employers have some leeway about how and when they pay employees, strict federal and California employment laws regulate the payroll process. When a business considers someone an employee, it is bound by federal and California state regulations designed to protect workers from abuse or exploitation. If you are concerned that your employer is breaking any one of these laws, you should seek legal advice from the experienced Los Angeles employment attorneys at V. James DeSimone Law.

1) You Have the Right to Be Paid Promptly

Although, the Fair Labor Standards Act doesn’t require an employer to distribute pay on specific intervals, it does require all employers to pay their workers in a “prompt” fashion. While the wording is vague, it typically means that employers should pay their employees in the form of cash or check as soon as possible after the most recent pay period ends. The FLSA also requires that employers pay employees their wages, including any earned overtime, on the regular payday for the period during which they worked those hours.
An employer cannot withhold any payment, and employees cannot be forced to pay back any portion of their wages. Employers are also expected to give employees any overtime pay on the same day they receive their regular paychecks.

2) You Have the Right to Be Paid Quickly After Leaving a Job

In California, employers are required to pay an employee immediately after being fired. However, the law changes a bit if you quit. The “Last Paycheck” law states that employers aren’t required to give an employee his final paycheck immediately upon leaving a job. In fact, they are required to give that employee his last paycheck by the next regular payday following his or her last day of work.

3) You Cannot Be Fired Because Your Wages Were Garnished

Courts have the right to garnish an employee’s wages to satisfy certain debts but title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act forbids employers from firing employees because of those garnishments.

4) You Have the Right to Minimum Wage, Even If You Work for Tips

Employers in California are required to pay employees the full state minimum wage before tips. Take a look at the chart below for the future increases in California pertaining to Minimum wage.

California Minimum Wage Chart

5) You Have the Right to Collect Ordered Back-Pay

If an Employer is ordered to pay an employee back-pay to settle a wage dispute, then the employee has the right to file a private lawsuit for back wages, liquidated damages, court costs, and legal fees.

6) Your Employer Cannot Dock Your Pay as Punishment

In California, an employee works “At Will.” Because of this, your employer cannot punish an employee by docking his pay for poor performance. However, the employee is subject to a performance review, at which time a potential raise can be lost due to poor performance.

7) You Cannot Be Docked for Short Breaks

In California you are entitled to meal and rest breaks: a 30-minute unpaid meal break if you work more than 5 hours in a workday, and 10 minutes breaks for every 4 hours you work.

Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Employment Lawyer if you Have Questions

If you feel your employer is violating your FLSA or California Labor Code rights and you can’t come to an agreement to resolve the matter, contact an experienced wage claim or minimum wages attorney. As an employee, you have rights and at V. James DeSimone Law, we work diligently on behalf of clients whose workplace rights have been violated. Whether you are dealing with a matter involving discrimination, harassment, unpaid wages or any other employment law case, you can trust that our team is here for you. Call us today for a consultation at 310-693-5561


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