There are a surprising number of misguided decisions that can put an employer in violation of employment laws. While some of these decisions may have been made with genuinely good intentions, there are others that can reflect the kind of carelessness, corner-cutting measures, and general unfamiliarity with the basics of employment law that can eventually result in lawsuits. If you are an employee who feels as though workplace violations are being committed by your employer, it may be in your best interest to speak to an attorney experienced in employment law, who can help you determine if violations are in fact occurring and how to right them.
The following list compiles some of the most common types of employer-driven workplace violations.
● Failing to structure lunch/break times
If you are employed to work a shift that is five or more hours long, you have the right to a 30 minute, unpaid lunch/dinner break. While that may not be news to most employees, many people are unaware that this break must take place at some point prior to the end of the fifth hour of that shift. If it doesn’t, you may be owed additional wages for that period of time.
● Poor training of management/supervisors
If your employer has 50 or more employees, they are legally required to provide their managers or supervisors with both sexual harassment and discrimination training, including information on preventing abusive conduct. This training must take place every two years and be at least a total of two hours. Managers or supervisors are required to take steps to correct any harassment or discrimination issues once they are aware of them.
● Vacation policies that don’t pay accrued time upon termination
While your employer is well within their right to place a cap on the amount of vacation time that can be accrued in total, within reason, California does not permit employers to withhold a payout of earned vacation time. Any vacation time that you accrue at your job is considered by the state to be a form of wages, which are owed to you upon termination.
● Misclassification of employees as exempt or non-exempt (from overtime rules)
If your employer has classified you as “exempt”, which is typically a status reserved for high-level administrative or executive type positions (though this can vary), then technically you should be receiving a set salary in lieu of an hourly wage. This also means that you are exempt from the requirements of meal/rest breaks and overtime earning that apply to employees that are non-exempt. Your employer may have intentionally classified your position as exempt in order to avoid having to keep up with the bookkeeping or pay requirements that would be needed if you were non-exempt. Improperly classified employees can challenge their position status and in some cases, may be owed the back pay, overtime or additional wages they would have been paid if they had been classified correctly.
The violations listed here make up only a fraction of the kind of employer mistakes frequently seen in the field of employment law. If you’ve been the victim or observer of similar violations at your own place of employment and would like to speak to someone about your rights, contact our offices today - we will be happy to speak with you.