If you’re an employee working in California in 2022, it’s never been so important to ensure that you’re getting paid correctly for your labor.
Inflation is at a nearly 40 year high. Consumer prices are rising at the fastest pace in late 2021 and early 2022 that they have since the 1970s, which means that this is the worst inflation experienced by anyone younger than retirement age.
Due to inflation, and to the current war Russia’s waging on Ukraine and the economic and energy sanctions being leveraged against Russia by the U.S. in support of Ukraine, gas prices are also the most expensive they’ve been in America’s history.
In a recent Twitter post that’s gone viral, one user noted that inflation and gas prices are hitting hourly employees the highest. She writes, “Gas is literally four dollars right now in North Carolina. Four dollars in a state where the minimum wage is $7.25. You literally could not afford two gallons of gas after working an hour. That’s crazy.”
California employees are entitled to a higher minimum wage, but are also experiencing higher gas prices. Right now (3/10/22), the average cost of gas in California is $5.69.
The cost of living is going up. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re entitled to be paid more, unfortunately, but it does mean now is a good time to check that you’re at least getting paid the minimum amount that you should be according to both county, state, and federal labor laws. You deserve to be paid fairly for every minute you spend working!
California has some of the strictest labor laws in the nation around employee payment. However, just because there are laws in place doesn’t mean that employers follow all of them. Employers may be unaware of certain rules or make unconscious errors when it comes to paying you fairly, and many greedy employers are dishonest and attempt to take advantage of employees by underpaying them so they can make more of a profit. Wage theft is never okay, but especially in today’s economy, it can really hurt your financial status and your ability to seize financial opportunities or provide adequately for your family.
Here are 3 things to check if you’re working in California in 2022 in order to guarantee that you are not being underpaid!
- Are you being paid the correct minimum wage based on where you work?
The first (and easiest) thing that you can confirm is whether or not you are being paid the correct minimum wage. On January 1, 2022, California raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour, or $14 per hour for small businesses with 25 or fewer employees. This is the minimum amount you should be getting paid per hour if you are classified as a non-exempt employee – regardless of whether or not you earn tips or you are undocumented.
However, the law states that you are supposed to be paid the highest minimum wage possible based on where in California you are working from; different cities and counties may have an even higher minimum wage requirement. In Mountain View, for example, the minimum wage is $17.10; in Sonoma, $16.00.
If your company is not located in California, but you are a non-exempt employee who works from California remotely due to the pandemic, you should be paid the minimum wage of the county and state in which you work.
Check the minimum wage you are currently being paid against the local minimum wage requirements. If you’re being paid less than that, you’re not getting paid enough!
- Are you being paid the correct amount in tips?
Tipped employees should also be receiving the legal minimum wage no matter how much they receive in tips every day. This means that you should get paid the right minimum wage plus the tips you earn! Tips are the sole property of the employee. If the tip was left by credit card, the employer can’t deduct the processing fee from the employee’s pay; employers are responsible for paying that amount themselves.
Tip pooling, the practice of collecting all tips earned by employees and splitting them evenly at the end of a period of time, is legal. Your employer can force you to pool tips, but they can only force you to pool tips with other employees – not managers.
You are also entitled to be paid your tips promptly. Under California labor laws, your employer has to give you your tips by the next payday after the tip has been paid to you.
If any of this doesn’t sound like your current situation, you may need to look into it to determine if your employer is paying you correctly.
- Are you being paid correctly for overtime?
If you work a lot, either by choice or by necessity or because your California employer schedules you to, that’s great – but you deserve to be paid for all the time you work, and some hours you are legally required to be paid more than others!
California’s overtime rules can be a little confusing and complex to calculate, but this is probably the most common wage violation, and one you should definitely check that is not happening to you. According to state law, non-exempt employees who do not have an alternative workweek schedule should receive one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay for every hour that they work…..
- Over 8 hours in a single workday
- Over 6 days in a single workweek
- Over 40 hours in a single workweek
They should receive double their regular rate of pay if they work….
- Over 12 hours in a single workday
- Over 8 hours on the 7th day of the workweek
It may be worth doing the calculations to make sure that your employer is paying you correctly for overtime work that you do. If you regularly work 10 hour days or 50 hour weeks, for example, your paycheck should look different than the minimum wage simply multiplied by 10 or 50; your hourly rate of pay should be different!
If something’s not adding up, call experienced California wage & hour lawyers!
You can’t afford to not be paid fairly. If you are working in California in 2022, check on these 3 things, and find that your employer isn’t paying you what you deserve according to law, call our wage & hour law firm to schedule a free, completely confidential consultation! At Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C., we will listen to your story and help you determine if you have a case to recover the compensation you are rightfully entitled to. We won’t tell your employer anything unless you decide to proceed, and even if you are an undocumented immigrant, our multilingual attorneys can explain how you are protected under the laws. We have over 60 years of combined experience on our talented team! Don’t wait, as your case may be time-sensitive; contact our attorneys today.