We work because we need to be able to support ourselves and our families. If employers pay their workers less than they deserve, caring for a family can become impossible. Unfair pay or forcing you to work without pay is illegal. Here is what you can do if your employer treats you unfairly.
What actions are illegal?
First, you need to understand when your employer is behaving illegally. Some of the most common ways employers keep pay from their workers are:
- Paying below minimum wage
- Denying lunch or rest breaks
- Giving no vacation or sick days
- Forcing you to work off the clock
- Not paying you overtime
It is important that you understand when you are working overtime and how you should be compensated. If you work more than 8 hours a day or more than 40 hours for the week, you should be paid at an overtime rate for the extra hours.
In California, overtime pay must be at least 1.5 times your usual pay rate. For example, if you usually make 10 dollars an hour, you should be paid 15 dollars an hour for each overtime hour you work. If you worked long hours one day or worked past 40 hours for the week and your employer did not pay you more than your usual rate for those extra hours, they acted illegally.
What can I do next?
If you are a victim of unfair pay, you can file a wage claim against your employer. This is a call for legal action to be given the pay that you deserve. You will need to have some evidence and information first though. Start taking notes on all the dates and hours you work if you do not have a record of them anywhere else. You should also gather the following:
- All pay stubs/paychecks you have
- Notice or record of your employment info, such as your rate of pay, paydays, etc.
- Any bounced checks from your employer
With this information, a skilled employment law attorney can help you hold the employer responsible for their actions. A wage claim not only compensates you for your lost wages but it also discourages your employer from paying illegally in the future.