Wage and Hour Violations

Minimum Wage:

Your employer must pay you at least the minimum wage. As of January 1, 2020, the minimum hourly wage in the State of California is $13.00 an hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $ 12.00 an hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. The current minimum wage will increase to $ 1.00 each year from January 1, 2020, through January 1, 2022. For residents in the bay area,  the current minimum wage in San Francisco is $ 15.59 an hour, Berkley is $15.59 an hour, San Jose is $ 15.25 an hour, and Oakland is $ 14.14 an hour. Other counties also have local minimum wages and/or living wage ordinances. If you are paid on a piece-rate basis and make less than the minimum wage based on your piecework, your employer must make up the difference to pay you minimum wage.  Click here for frequently asked questions about minimum wage.


Typically in California, if you work over 40 hours a week or over 8 hours a day, you must be paid overtime at the rate of 1.5 times your hourly rate. If you work more than 12 hours a day, you must be paid overtime at the rate of 2.0 times your hourly rate. If you work 7 days in a row, on the 7th day, you must be paid at the rate of 1.5 times your hourly rate for the first 8 hours and at the rate of 2.0 times your hourly rate for any hours after the first 8 hours for that day. If you work in the fields, overtime in California typically begins after 10 hours in a day have been worked.  Click here for frequently asked questions about Overtime.

Meals/Rest Breaks:

An employer must provide an employee with a 30-minute meal period no later than the end of an employee’s fifth hour of work and a second 30-minute meal period no later than an employee’s tenth hour of work.  Employers must also authorize and permit non-exempt employees to take a 10-minute paid rest break for each four hour work period, or major fraction thereof. A rest period is not required for employees whose total daily work time is less than three and one-half hours. If the employer fails to provide the meal or rest period as provided in the applicable Industrial Welfare Commission Order, you can recover one additional hour of pay at your hourly rate each workday that the meal and/or rest period is not provided.  Thus, if you are not provided a meal and rest period in one work day as explained above, your employer may owe you two hours in wages (one hour for each violation).  Click here for frequently asked questions about meal and rest breaks.

Waiting Time Penalties:

If you are fired, your employer must pay you your final wages at the time of termination.  If you quit without giving at least 72 hours notice, your employer must pay all your wages within 72 hours after you quit.  You can recover up to 30 days of your wages if your employer willfully refuses to pay you at the time of discharge or quitting.  Click here for frequently asked questions about waiting time penalties.

Vacation Pay:

If you have been promised paid vacation time  you must be paid the amount of vacation time you have earned / accumulated at the time you quit or are discharged.

Personnel Files & Employee Records

You are entitled to get a copy of all your time cards and payroll records from your employer, even after you leave your job.  You do not have to sign anything you do not understand.  You are entitled to get copies of anything you signed at work.  Keep anything that your employer gives you.

Split Shift Premium

Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders define “split shift” as a work schedule which is interrupted by non-paid non-working periods established by the employer, other than “bona fide” rest or meal periods. Under  applicable Wage Orders, section 4(c), “when an employee works a split shift, one hour’s pay at the minimum wage shall be paid in addition to the minimum wage for that workday, except when the employee resides at the place of employment.” Generally, you must be making the minimum wage to be entitled to a split shift premium.

Reporting Time Pay

To ensure that employees are compensated at least in part for reporting to work expecting to work a specified number of hours but are then sent home without working the scheduled hours, the Industrial Welfare Commission Orders require that each workday an employee is required to report to work, but is not put to work or is furnished with less than half of his or her usual or scheduled day’s work, the employee must be paid for half the usual or scheduled day’s work, but in no event for less than two hours nor more than four hours, at his or her regular rate of pay.


It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against you, including firing you or disciplining you for filing a claim for wages, or for exercising any right under the Labor Code, including asking to be paid the minimum wage or overtime. Your employer cannot fire you for refusing to talk to him or her alone, if you think s/he wants to discuss a disciplinary matter about you. You have the right to have a co-worker present.

Taking Precautions:

Keep Records: Always keep track of your hours (time you start and end, and if a meal period is provided) and the dates and days you work. Write this information on a calendar every day and keep it in a safe place.

Know Who Your Employer Is: Many workers do not know the full name of their employer in English. Keep all your check-stubs and W-2 forms. Make a copy of your paychecks before cashing them. Keep all of this information in a safe place for at least four years. If you are paid in cash, look for the name of the employer on a business card, on company automobiles, or other places where the name might be displayed. Write down your boss’s license plate number.

If you are Undocumented: California Labor Code § 1171.5 provides in part that immigration status is not relevant to an employee’s right to recover wages.  You have the right to minimum wage and overtime pay and other wage and hour protections, even if you do not have work documents.

In order to recover your wages, it is important that you have the following information:

Employer Name (in English):

Employer Address:

Manager’s Name:

First Day of Work:

Last Day of Work:

Promised Rate of Pay:

Job Title and Duties:

Amount Actually Paid:

The attorneys at Villegas Carrera have extensive experience representing clients in cases and class actions for unpaid regular and overtime wages, commissions, meal and rest premiums, split shift premiums, and reporting time pay.  Contact us at 415-989-8000 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.

Schedule a Free Consultation

For questions about our practice, or to schedule a free consultation with an attorney, please call us at 415-989-8000 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.