California Wage and Hours

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By: C. Edward Langhammer, Jr. Member, Cotkin, Collins & Ginsburg

Employers must also consider procedures and checklists to stay in compliance with wage and hour laws (still the hottest class action ticket in town). Employers are well advised to study their posters and their Wage Orders, which deal with important matters including:

  • Minimum Wage (California is $6.75 per hour; federal is $5.15 per hour; note California minimum wage generally must be paid to California employees)
  • Exempt or Non-Exempt
  • White Collar Exemptions
  • Computer Professionals
  • Salespersons (Inside/Outside)
  • Meal Periods
  • Rest Periods
  • Time Sheets

In particular, employers must rigorously monitor and document non-exempt employees meal and rest (“break”) periods by keeping “time sheets” (manual or electronic) for such employees. Employers are liable to the employee for one hour’s pay for meal and rest periods that an employee misses (or claims to have missed where the employer has not documented the taking of such meal or rest period). The issues surrounding such periods are tangled, particular since the California Supreme Court has yet to rule on whether employer’s liability for “one hour of pay” is a “penalty” or a “wage” and there is a split among the various California Courts of Appeal. This is critical because if a “penalty” the maximum exposure for an employer is one-year statute of limitations. If a “wage” the maximum exposure for statute of limitations is either three or four years (if deemed to be an “unfair business practice” in violation of the Business and Professions Code).

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("Copyright ©2006, Cotkin, Collins & Ginsburg. Used with permission.)

 

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