California is one of the best states in the US to be a worker -- well at least before the recession struck and thousands lost their job --but employed or unemployed, you would be hard pressed to find other states that have more employee-friendly laws than California (Washington maybe, but that's another topic).
You may ask what separates us from the other states and even from federal labor laws like the Fair labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the answer is a lot.
In fact, here are some of the benefits you can get from working in California that you will not get from the FLSA:
- Higher Minimum Wage
While many states have adopted the national minimum wage ($7.25), California has set a higher minimum wage at $8.00 per hour.
And while the FLSA allows employers to pay only a percentage of the minimum wage if the worker can earn in tips, California requires employers to pay the whole hourly rate regardless of the worker gets tips or not.
- Required Breaks
Companies covered by the FLSA do not require employers to provide breaks but California law does.
Under state labor laws, employers are required to provide employees an unpaid 30-minute meal break once they worked in excess of 5 hours and a second unpaid 30-minute break if you worked more than 10 hours.
Aside from the meal breaks, employers are also required to give employees a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked.
If the employer fails to provide you these breaks, he may be required to pay you the equivalent of your hourly rate for every missed break up to the last 4 years.
- Double Pay Overtime
While the state follows the FLSA in regards to paying employees one and a half times their regular rate for every hour beyond the required hours of work.
California law takes it a bit further by allowing you to collect double the regular rate if you worked in excess of 12 hours.
Now that you know some of the benefits you are entitled to, it's time to check your pay statements to see if you are being paid correctly.
If there are inaccuracies in your pay statement, the employer may not only be required to pay you the missing amount but they can also be penalized for their mistakes, intentional or not.
Generally, the employer can be charged $50 for the first violation then $100 for each succeeding violations, up to $4,000.
You can either take your unpaid wage claim to the California's Division of Labor Standards or file a direct lawsuit against your employer.
Either way, you should consult an employment law attorney for assistance.