Filing a Wage and Hour Claim - California

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Does California have state overtime laws that are different from federal law?

Under California law, employers must pay employees at a rate of one and one-half the employee's regular hourly wage for working more than eight and less than twelve hours in a workday or eight hours on the seventh consecutive workday of the workweek. Employers must pay double the employee's regular hourly wage for working more than twelve hours a day or more than eight hours on the seventh consecutive workday of the workweek.

Some employees are exempt from the overtime requirement. Employees earning more than $45,760 per year on a salary basis (or $43,680 if the employer has 25 or fewer employees) and spending more than half of their time engaged in administrative, professional, executive, computer professional, agricultural, motor carrier or outsides sales activities are exempt from the overtime requirement. On January 1, 2019, the overtime threshold will increase to $49,920 per year year (or $45,760 if the employer has 25 or fewer employees).  Additionally, the following occupations are exempt under California law but not under federal law:

Additional information on California overtime law is available at the California Department of Labor website. You can read more about federal overtime law at our page on overtime laws.

Does California have a minimum wage that is different from federal law?

Effective January 1, 2018, the minimum wage in California is $11.00 per hour, which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. This applies to employers with 26 or more employees. If an employer has 25 or fewer employees, California’s minimum wage the employer must pay is $10.50 per hour. California has scheduled the state minimum wage to increase every year on January 1.

Generally, employers cannot use other costs of employment to decrease the minimum wage required. Employers cannot use tips to reduce the minimum wage. Employers cannot decrease the minimum wage by the cost to provide and maintain uniforms. If an employee agrees voluntarily in writing, however, an employer can decrease the minimum wage by the cost of meals and lodging.

The following employees may be paid at a rate below the minimum wage:

The following employees are exempt from the minimum wage requirement:

Additional information on California minimum wage law is available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_MinimumWage.htm.

Do any cities or counties in California have a minimum wage that is different from state or federal law?

Several cities in California have a minimum wage that is higher than the state minimum of $11.00 per hour. City minimum wage law applies to non-exempt adults and minors who work two (2) or more hours per week within the city’s geographic limits. The minimum wage applies to employees whether or not they live within the city, and regardless of their immigration status. Tips do not count towards the minimum wage employers are required to pay. The following cities have their own minimum wage laws:

Belmont, California has a minimum wage of $12.50 per hour, effective July 1, 2018. Belmont plans to increase the minimum wage on January 1 every year. Additional information is available at https://www.belmont.gov/city-hall/administrative-services/city-manager/minimum-wage.

Berkeley, California has a minimum wage of $13.75, effective October 1, 2017. Berkeley plans to increase the minimum wage on October 1, 2018, to $15.00 per hour. Additional information is available at https://www.cityofberkeley.info/MWO/.

Cupertino, California has a minimum wage of $13.50 per hour, effective January 1, 2018. Cupertino plans to increase the minimum wage on January 1 every year. Additional information is available at http://www.cupertino.org/our-city/city-news/cupertino-minimum-wage.

El Cerrito, California has a minimum wage of $13.60 per hour, effective January 1, 2018. El Cerrito plans to increase the minimum wage on January 1 every year. Additional information is available at http://www.el-cerrito.org/940/Minimum-Wage-Ordinance.

Emeryville, California has a minimum wage of $15.69 per hour for large employers (who have 56 or more employees), and a minimum wage of $15.00 for small employers (who have 55 or fewer employees), effective July 1, 2018. Emeryville plans to increase the minimum wage on July 1 every year. Additional information is available at http://www.ci.emeryville.ca.us/1024/Minimum-Wage-Ordinance.

Los Altos, California has a minimum wage of $13.50 per hour, effective January 1, 2018. El Cerrito plans to increase the minimum wage on January 1 every year. Additional information is available at https://www.losaltosca.gov/ed/page/minimum-wage.

Los Angeles, California has a minimum wage of $13.25 per hour for large employers (who have 26 or more employees), and a minimum wage of $12.00 for small employers (who have 25 or fewer employees), effective July 1, 2018. Los Angeles will increase the minimum wage every year on July 1 until it reaches $15.00 per hour for all non-exempt employees on July 1, 2021. Additional information is available at http://wagesla.lacity.org/.

Los Angeles County, California has a minimum wage of $13.25 per hour for large employers (who have 26 or more employees), and a minimum wage of $12.00 for small employers (who have 25 or fewer employees), effective July 1, 2018. This differs from the City of Los Angeles law, because it is enforced in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. Los Angeles County will increase the minimum wage every year on July 1 until it reaches $15.00 per hour for all non-exempt employees on July 1, 2021. Additional information is available at http://dcba.lacounty.gov/minimum-wage/.

Malibu, California has a minimum wage of $13.25 per hour for large employers (who have 26 or more employees), and a minimum wage of $12.00 for small employers (who have 25 or fewer employees). Malibu plans to increase the minimum wage on July 1 every year. Additional information is available at https://www.malibucity.org/793/Minimum-Wage.

Milpitas, California now has a minimum wage of $13.50 per hour, effective July 1, 2018. Milpitas plans to increase the minimum wage on July 1 every year. Additional information is available at http://www.ci.milpitas.ca.gov/milpitas/departments/economic-development/minimum-wage/.

Mountain View, California has a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour, effective January 1, 2018. Mountain View plans to increase the minimum wage on January 1 every year. Additional information is available at https://www.mountainview.gov/depts/comdev/economicdev/city_minimum_wage.asp.

Oakland, California has a minimum wage of $13.23 per hour, effective January 1, 2018. Additional information is available at http://www2.oaklandnet.com/government/o/CityAdministration/d/MinimumWage/index.htm.

Palo Alto, California has a minimum wage of $13.50 per hour, effective January 1, 2018. The minimum wage will increase on January 1, 2019, to $15.00 per hour, and then will increase annually after that. Additional information is available at https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/business/minimum_wage.asp.

Pasadena, California has a minimum wage of $13.25 per hour for large employers (who have 26 or more employees), and a minimum wage of $12.00 for small employers (who have 25 or fewer employees), effective July 1, 2018. Additional information is available at https://ww5.cityofpasadena.net/planning/code-compliance/minimum-wage-ordinance/.

Redwood, California will implement a new minimum wage on January 1, 2019, of $13.50 per hour. Redwood will increase the minimum wage annually after 2019. Additional information is available at http://www.redwoodcity.org/departments/city-manager/city-manager-s-initiatives/proposed-local-minimum-wage.

Richmond, California has a minimum wage of $13.41 per hour, effective January 1, 2018. Richmond plans to increase the minimum wage annually starting on January 1, 2019. Additional information is available at http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/2615/Minimum-Wage-Ordinance.

San Diego, California has a minimum wage of $11.50 per hour, effective January 1, 2017. San Diego plans to increase the minimum wage on January 1, 2019, and then each following year. Additional information is available at https://www.sandiego.gov/treasurer/minimum-wage-program.

San Francisco, California has a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour, effective July 1, 2018. San Francisco plans to increase the minimum wage annually on July 1. Additional information is available at https://sfgov.org/olse/minimum-wage-ordinance-mwo.

San Jose, California has a minimum wage of $13.50 per hour. San Jose plans to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 on January 1, 2019. Additional information is available at http://www.sanjoseca.gov/?nid=3491.

San Leandro, California has a minimum wage of $13.00 per hour, effective July 1, 2018. San Leandro will increase the minimum wage every year on July 1 until it reaches $15.00 per hour for all non-exempt employees on July 1, 2020. Additional information can be found at https://www.sanleandro.org/depts/cityhall/mwo.asp.

San Mateo, California has a minimum wage of $13.50 per hour for regular employers, and a minimum wage of $12.00 for 501(C)(3) nonprofit employers, effective January 1, 2018. San Mateo will gradually increase the minimum wage until it reaches $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2020, then will adjust it each following year. Additional information is available at https://www.cityofsanmateo.org/3278/Minimum-Wage.

Santa Clara, California has a minimum wage of $13.00 per hour. Santa Clara plans to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2018. The city will then adjust the minimum wage each following year. Additional information is available at http://santaclaraca.gov/government/departments/city-manager/minimum-wage-ordinance.

Sunnyvale, California has a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour. The city will adjust the minimum wage every January. Additional information is available at https://sunnyvale.ca.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=25240.

Santa Monica, California has a minimum wage of $13.25 per hour for large employers (who have 26 or more employees), a minimum wage of $12.00 for small employers (who have 25 or fewer employees), and a minimum wage of $16.10 for all hotels. The city will adjust these rates annually every July 1. Additional information is available at https://beta.smgov.net/strategic-goals/inclusive-diverse-community/minimum-wage-ordinance.

Does California have meal and rest break requirements, unlike federal law?

Under California law, nonexempt employees are entitled to a thirty minute meal break within the first five hours of work. Additionally, nonexempt employees must receive at least a ten-minute rest period for each four hours of work. Additional information on California meal and rest break requirements is available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_MealPeriods.htm and http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_RestPeriods.htm.

Does California have other labor standards laws that are different from federal law?

Unlike federal law, there are penalties for underpayment of wages, paying wages with insufficient funds, failure to provide meal or rest breaks, failure to provide one day's rest in seven, and failure to pay wages timely upon termination. Additionally, under California law, there are penalties for unlawful deductions from wages.

How do I file a wage/hour or labor standards claim in California?

You can file a wage claim with a local office of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). This can be done by filling out an Initial Report or Claim Form available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/DLSE-Forms-Wage.htm. The filing should include as much information and documentation as possible, including the name, location, method of doing business of the employer, and any documents to support the claim. This process can be completed with or without an attorney.

Additional information on filing a wage claim is available at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/HowToFileWageClaim.htm.

What are my time deadlines?

If you have a wage/hour claim, do not delay in contacting the DLSE to file a claim. There are strict time limits in which wage claims must be filed. In order for the agency to act on your behalf, you must file with the DLSE within three years from the date that the claim arose. Some penalties, however, are subject to a one year deadline.

As you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim until your time limit is close to expiring. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. Yet if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your claim with the DLSE.

How can I or my attorney pursue a claim in court in California?

In California, employees can file a private lawsuit to recover unpaid wages, penalties, interest and attorney's fees and court costs.

Local DLSE offices

For general questions that do not pertain to a specific claim, email DLSE2@dir.ca.gov.

Bakersfield
7718 Meany Ave.
Bakersfield, CA 93308
Phone: (661) 587-3060
Email: LaborComm.WCA.BAK@dir.ca.govs

El Centro
1550 W. Main St.
El Centro, CA 92243
Phone: (760) 353-0607

Fresno
770 E. Shaw Avenue
Suite 222
Fresno, CA 93710
Phone: (559) 244-5340
Email: LaborComm.WCA.FRE@dir.ca.gov

Long Beach
300 Oceangate
Suite 302
Long Beach, CA 90802
Phone: (562) 590-5048
Email: LaborComm.WCA.LBO@dir.ca.gov

Los Angeles
320 W. Fourth Street
Suite 450
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone: (213) 620-6330
Email: LaborComm.WCA.LAO@dir.ca.gov

Oakland
1515 Clay Street
Suite 801
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 622-3273
Email: LaborComm.WCA.OAK@dir.ca.gov

Redding
250 Hemsted Drive
2nd Floor, Suite A
Redding, CA 96002
Phone: (530) 225-2655
Email: LaborComm.WCA.RED@dir.ca.gov

Sacramento
2031 Howe Avenue
Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95825
Phone: (916) 263-1811
Email: LaborComm.WCA.SAC@dir.ca.gov

Salinas
950 E. Blanco Rd.,
Suite 204
Salinas, CA 93901
Phone: (831) 443-3041
Email: LaborComm.WCA.SAL@dir.ca.gov

San Bernardino
464 W. Fourth Street
Room 348
San Bernardino, CA 92401
Phone: (909) 383-4334
Email: LaborComm.WCA.SBO@dir.ca.gov

San Diego
7575 Metropolitan Dr.
Rm. 210
San Diego, CA 92108
Phone: (619) 220-5451
Email: LaborComm.WCA.SDO@dir.ca.gov

San Francisco
455 Golden Gate Ave., 10th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 703-5300
Email: LaborComm.WCA.SFO@dir.ca.gov

San Francisco Headquarters
455 Golden Gate Avenue 
9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 703-4810
Email: DLSE2@dir.ca.gov

San Jose
100 Paseo de San Antonio, Room 120
San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 277-1266
Email: LaborComm.WCA.SJO@dir.ca.gov

Santa Ana
605 West Santa Ana Blvd., Bldg. 28
Room 625
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Phone: (714) 558-4910
Email: LaborComm.WCA.ANA@dir.ca.gov

Santa Barbara
411 E. Canon Perdido, Room 3
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: (805) 568-1222
Email: LaborComm.WCA.SBA@dir.ca.gov

Santa Rosa
50 "D" Street
Suite 360
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Phone: (707) 576-2362
Email: LaborComm.WCA.SRO@dir.ca.gov

Stockton
31 E. Channel Street, Room 317
Stockton, CA 95202
Phone: (209) 948-7771
Email: LaborComm.WCA.STK@dir.ca.gov

Van Nuys
6150 Van Nuys Blvd.
Room 206
Van Nuys, CA 91401
Phone: (818) 901-5315
Email: LaborComm.WCA.VNO@dir.ca.gov

Van Nuys (Entertainment Work Permits)
6150 Van Nuys Blvd.
Room 100
Van Nuys, CA 91401
Phone: (818) 901-5484


 

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