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  • By: Moss Bollinger
  • Published: June 5, 2021
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Minimum wage is the price floor of employee labor. Workers may not sell their labor below this threshold. Federal, state, and local laws set a minimum wage to protect workers from unfairly low compensation. The purpose of a minimum wage is to allow everyone in society to earn enough money to meet their own basic needs and support their families. Thirty-four California cities are increasing the local minimum wage in 2021. Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about minimum wage.

What is the minimum wage?

Effective January 1, 2021, the minimum wage increased in California to $14 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $13 per hour for employees with 25 or fewer employees. The federal minimum wage provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour. The minimum wage is $16.07 in San Francisco and $15 in Ventura County.

Does the minimum wage differ for minor workers?

No. There is no distinction made between adults and minors regarding minimum wage.

Can workers agree to work for less than the minimum wage?

No. The minimum wage is a legal obligation imposed upon employers that cannot be waived by any agreement, even a collective bargaining agreement.

What is the distinction between the local, state, and federal minimum wage rates?

Employers in California, with exceptions, are subject to both the federal, state, and local minimum wage laws. When the minimum wage is set by more than one government entity resulting in conflict, employers must follow the standard that provides the highest wage to the employee. Because California’s current minimum wage exceeds the federal minimum wage, employers subject to both laws must pay the state minimum wage rate unless their employees are legally exempt. Analogously, if a local government such as a city or county has adopted a higher minimum wage, employers must pay the local minimum wage if it exceeds state or federal minimum wage rates.

Can employers use employee tips as a credit toward their legal obligations to pay minimum wage?

No. An employer may not use the tips of employees as credit toward its obligation to pay minimum wage.

What are a worker’s options if an employer fails to pay at least the minimum wage rate?

Workers who do not receive the minimum wage for work performed may either file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement or file a lawsuit against the employer to recover the lost wages. Once a claim is filed with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), a Deputy Labor Commissioner will the way to proceed, which may include referral to a conference or hearing and even dismissal of the claim.

What can workers do if their employers retaliate against them because they raised the issue of not receiving minimum wage?

Employers may not discriminate or retaliate against an employee in any manner, Employers may not discharge the employee because he or she asked why compensation was below minimum wage, or because the employee filed or threatened to file a claim. If this occurs, employees may file a discrimination/retaliation complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office or even file a lawsuit against the employer.

California employees are legally entitled to compensation if their employers violate the state’s wage and hour laws. If your employer has violated wage and hour laws, the experienced employment law attorneys at Moss Bollinger are here to help protect and assert your important legal rights. We can pinpoint the nature of the violation and determine your best steps moving forward, whether it is lodging a complaint with the California Labor Board, filing a lawsuit in California court, or joining a California class action.

It is important to know that California law prohibits employers from retaliating against or wrongfully terminating employees who assert their rights under California’s wage and hour laws. If you are a worker in California, a free consultation with the experienced employment law attorneys at Moss Bollinger to ensure that your rights are protected is risk-free. If your employer has engaged in any illegal conduct under California law, contact Moss Bollinger today at  (310) 982-2291 or reach us online.

Moss Bollinger LLP - Sherman Oaks, CA

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