If you work in California, you might be making more money by next week. That’s because the new California minimum wage is increasing in many cities on July 1st due to inflation. While this should provide some measure of relief to hourly employees who have been struggling under the heavy weight of current gas prices, food prices, and rent increases, employers aren’t looking forward to the change because it costs them. They may attempt – as many California employers are already doing – to withhold the fair minimum wage you are entitled to, which is why it’s important that you know your rights and can stand up for yourself if necessary!
Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C., is dedicated to protecting workers’ rights and recovering compensation for stolen, unpaid wages, including unpaid minimum wages. If after July 1, your employer still has not increased your minimum wage according to the new legislation, then call our office to schedule a free consultation. We can listen to your story, answer your questions, investigate your circumstances, and fight for the back pay you deserve if it turns out that you are being underpaid!
What is the current minimum wage?
Currently, if you’re a nonexempt employee working in California, you should be getting paid a minimum wage of at least $15.00 per hour depending on where you work ($14.00 per hour if you work for a company that has 25 or fewer employees). That’s because in some counties, the minimum wage is much higher; you are entitled to be paid the highest minimum wage that applies. If you work in Mountain View, for example, you should be making $17.10 an hour at least. That’s just the minimum wage – that’s not factoring in other wages you’re entitled to make, like overtime pay.
View a list of the current minimum wages by California city/county here.
It’s important to point out that the minimum wage applies only to employees who are classified as nonexempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act and other California laws. Generally, you are considered a nonexempt employee if you are paid by the hour and have little to no control over the manner in which your work is done (there are other criteria, but that’s the most basic way to understand it). If you are an exempt employee, or you are an independent contractor, the current minimum wage and new California minimum wage do not apply to you.
Why is the minimum wage changing?
The current minimum wage took effect on January 1, 2022, so it was already changed fairly recently. It may seem unprecedented that a new California minimum wage is coming so soon after a recent increase, but actually the state minimum wage has increased every year since 2017 in accordance with legislation signed into law by former California Governor Jerry Brown.
The law he signed caps the minimum wage at $15. However, the law includes an important provision that minimum wage can be raised annually up to 3.5% for any increase of inflation of over 7% as measured by the national Consumer Price Index. That has now happened. It’s no secret that inflation is hitting the nation, and especially California, hard – just look at gas prices, food prices, and rising housing costs. Because inflation is now so high, California’s current governor, Governor Gavin Newsom, announced that the statutory increase will take effect in order to combat the homelessness crisis in California and ensure that workers are able to make a living off of their labor.
When is the new California minimum wage taking effect?
Starting on January 1, 2023, all employers – of businesses of every size – will now be required to pay their nonexempt employees a minimum wage of $15.50 per hour.
However, at the beginning of this article we mentioned July 1, and that’s the date that many employees should have their eyes on. Here’s why: California employers are subject to federal and state labor laws, but they are also subject to local labor ordinances. About 14 cities/counties in the Golden State are raising their local minimum wage ahead of the January 1st increase this summer: specifically, July 1, 2022.
Employers are subject to these increases, even though the new California minimum wage in many of these cities/counties will be more than the $15.50 announced by Gov. Newsom.
For example, say you are a waitress in a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. Right now, you should be making $15.00 an hour. On July 1, 2022, you should start making $16.04 an hour. If you are a waitress in a restaurant in Emeryville, you should be making $17.13 right now and $17.68 after July 1.
You can view a full list of the changes below (pulled from the National Law Review).
What should you do if your minimum wage doesn’t increase accordingly after July 1?
Not getting paid the right minimum wage in today’s economy can be extremely detrimental to your financial success, even as simple as being able to adequately provide for your and your family’s needs. If your employer isn’t paying you the fair minimum wage you deserve, they’re committing wage theft; it is illegal, unfair, and you can fight back with a wage & hour attorney team on your side!
If you live in one of the counties listed in the chart above, and your employer does not raise your minimum wage after July 1, don’t hesitate to contact our law firm. Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C., is made up of skilled wage & hour lawyers who are compassionate with our clients and aggressive when it comes to protecting their interests. You can schedule a free consultation and talk about your situation with us, completely confidentially. We can confirm whether or not your employer is paying you fairly, and then explain your options for recovering the pay you rightfully earned (which may include filing a lawsuit). Even if you are an undocumented immigrant, you are protected under these new California minimum wage laws. It’s not expensive to hire our firm; you don’t have to pay us any fees upfront, and if we win back pay or damages for you, we’ll make your employer pay us. Let us advocate for you!