Your Basic Rights Under California Wage and Hour Laws
As a government employee in California, you need to know that you have certain basic rights under California wage and hour laws. These include the right to a minimum wage, overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, and reimbursement for work-related expenses. If your employer violates these laws, you may be able to seek redress through a legal action.
Employee wage and hour rights are protected by federal law under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and this act covers public sector workers at both the state and federal levels (as well as the private sector).Additionally, California has its own labor, wage, and hour laws under the California Labor Code, and wage laws are enforced by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).
Laws that protect California workers from wage and hour violations include:
- The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): This federal law sets standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, and other employment standards, applicable to both public and private sector employees.
- The California Labor Code: This is the primary California law that governs employment relations and contains extensive provisions on wages, hours, and working conditions.
- The California Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Wage Orders: These orders regulate wages, hours, and working conditions in specific industries or occupations.
- The California Equal Pay Act: This law prohibits employers from paying employees less than employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work.
- The California Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act: This law requires employers to provide paid sick leave to any employee who has worked in California for at least 30 days in a year.
- The California Family Rights Act (CFRA): This law requires employers to provide unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons.
If you have suffered wage theft or another violation of federal or state wage and hour laws, you may have grounds to sue your employer. Keep reading to learn what steps to take when considering bringing a claim.
Consult with Experienced Legal Representation
Before taking any action, your first step should be to consult with an experienced legal representative who is experienced in wage and hour violations. An experienced employment lawyer can help you understand the complexities of both federal and state laws and determine whether your rights have been infringed upon. Furthermore, your attorney can review your employment agreement and wage statements to evaluate any discrepancies.
Your attorney can also assist you in collecting critical evidence and documentation such as time records, pay stubs, and correspondence that substantiate your claim. Your attorney may also guide you through the legal process, which may include filing a complaint with the appropriate state or local government agency, such as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) or the Department of Labor (DOL).
An employment attorney may also be able to help you with:
- Representation in any meetings, negotiations, or hearings.
- Filing a lawsuit against your employer on your behalf.
- Arguing your case in court.
- Seeking appropriate remedies, including back pay, damages, and even reinstatement.
With a knowledgeable legal representative by your side, you're better equipped to navigate the challenges and complexities of wage and hour law, ensuring your rights are upheld and justice is served.
Initiate the Complaint Process
The specific procedure for your complaint may vary depending on the government department or agency you work for. Additionally, your agency may have a particular process for addressing wage and hour violations. The complicated nature of the complaint process within government agencies is a major reason why government employees are encouraged to work with legal counsel, even if they think that their claim is straightforward.
Generally, the process begins with formally documenting your complaint. This often involves writing a detailed letter to your employer or the Human Resources department outlining the nature of the wage and hour violation, any supporting evidence, and the actions you would like your employer to take to rectify the situation. This not only serves as a record of your grievance but also provides your employer with an opportunity to resolve the issue internally.
After submitting your complaint, your employer or the HR department will most likely investigate your claim. This may involve interviewing you, your co-workers, and supervisors and reviewing relevant documents such as timecards, pay stubs, and employment contracts.
If your employer fails to resolve your complaint satisfactorily or if you face retaliation for making a complaint, you may wish to escalate the issue by filing a complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency, such as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) or the Department of Labor (DOL).
Remember, the process can get complex, and the specific steps may differ depending on your workplace. Always consult with your legal representative to ensure you take the right steps.
You Are Not Alone in This
Suing a government employer in California requires extensive knowledge of local, state, and federal employment laws. At Hennig Kramer Ruiz & Singh, LLP, we understand the challenges employees face when taking legal action against their government employers. Our team of experienced employment attorneys has been helping Southern California government workers protect their rights for decades. As a firm, we are dedicated to fighting for your rights and helping you seek the compensation you deserve.
Our law firm has worked with government workers from various departments and agencies, including:
- State and County Departments of Public Health
- County Probation Departments
- County of San Bernadino workers
- City of Los Angeles workers
- Transit workers
Remember, asserting your rights is the first step towards holding your government employer accountable for wage and hour violations. We understand that this may be a daunting prospect. However, consulting with a legal professional with a strong track record of successfully managing employment law cases in California can help you understand your best course of action.
Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation, and let us help you navigate this complex process.