Labor Code Penalties
The California Labor Code and applicable Industrial Wage Orders have implemented substantial penalties against employers for certain specified violations of California's wage and hour laws. The purpose of penalties is to punish the employer for engaging in unlawful conduct. In most cases, the penalties must be paid to the employees whose rights were violated.
The following represents some examples of the types of violations which may subject an employer to penalties:
- Penalties for Rest Breaks: One hour of pay for each workday that a lawful rest break was not provided
- Penalties for Lunches: One hour of pay for each workday that a lawful lunch break was not provided
- Waiting Time Penalties: If a terminated employee is not paid all wages owed at the time of his/her termination, or if a quitting employee is not paid all wages owed generally within 72-hours of departure, the departing employee may be entitled to Waiting Time Penalties. Waiting Time Penalties represent up to thirty days of wages. (Note: Thirty days of wages represent thirty individual days of wages, not one month's pay.)
- Itemized Wage Statement Penalties: Employees must be provided properly itemized wage statements which include gross wages, net wages, total hours for non-salaried, exempt employees, piece-rate units and piece-rates, all deductions, pay period dates, employee's name and social security number, employer's name and address and all applicable hourly rates, as well as, the corresponding number of hours worked at each hourly rate. Failure to provide a properly itemized wage statement may subject the employer to a $50 penalty for the first violation, $100 for each subsequent violation – up to $4,000 per employee. Reimbursement of costs and reasonable attorney fees may also be available
- Minimum Wage Penalties: For a failure to pay the California-mandated minimum wage rate, $100 to each underpaid employee for the first violation, $250 to each employee for each pay period thereafter where there is an underpayment;
- Overtime Penalties: For a failure to pay proper overtime wage rates, $50 to each employee for the first violation, $100 to each employee for each pay period thereafter where there is an underpayment or nonpayment of overtime wage rates
Penalties for Unlawful Deductions From Wages: Where an employer unlawfully collects or deducts from an employee's wages, $100 to each underpaid employee for the first violation, $200 to each employee for each pay period thereafter where there is an underpayment, plus 25% of the amount underpaid.