Our legal team at Strauss & Strauss, APC has been practicing employment law in California for decades. In that time, we have fielded tens of thousands of questions from clients and accumulated a wealth of useful knowledge.
Our lawyers are prepared to help you understand your rights as a California employee. We can assess your unique circumstances and determine whether you have a case against your employer.
Can a California Employer Deny an Employee’s Meal Break?
Yes, but only if they are fairly compensated with meal period premium pay. Employers are obliged to provide non-exempt employees with a 30-minute, off-duty meal period during the workday. While your employer can choose to deny you this meal period, they must compensate you with one hour of pay at your regular rate for each denied meal period. Should your employer refuse to pay this premium, you can file a wage claim with the state’s Labor Commissioner and pursue civil legal action.
Other frequently asked questions about California meal periods include:
- What are the timing rules for California meal periods?
- What are the basic requirements for meal periods in California?
- What does it mean to “provide” a meal period in California?
It depends on the type and severity of the illness. Non-chronic, short-term illnesses like the flu will generally not qualify an employee for protection under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. In these situations, an employer can terminate a worker that is out sick. Employees with temporary and non-temporary disabilities as defined under the Fair Employment and Housing Act do enjoy protections from termination.
Employees with “serious health conditions” as defined under the California Family Rights Act may also be eligible for unpaid leave. If an employee has been working for a qualifying employer for at least 1 year, they can generally take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 1-year period to manage a “serious health condition.” Employees cannot be terminated or otherwise retaliated against for exercising this right to leave.
California employers are required to provide a litany of information, notices, and disclosures, to non-exempt new hires. If an employee does not receive all of the required information, they have the right to pursue legal action and recover a civil penalty for each instance of misconduct over the preceding year.
California employers must provide the following information to new, non-exempt employees:
- Rate of pay, including overtime information
- Any allowances claimed as part of the minimum wage
- The regular date on which the employee will be paid
- The formal, registered name of the employer, including any pseudonyms
- The physical and mailing addresses of the employer’s principal place of business
- The employer’s telephone number
- Contact information for the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier
- Any other documentation or information required by the Labor Commissioner
- Any changes to the preceding requirements must also be reported to existing employees within 7 days of the change taking effect
In short, yes. An employer must reimburse you for all expenditures, including mileage, that are incurred in the course of you completing your job responsibilities. Your employer may not reject legitimate reimbursement requests or claim reimbursements are included in your regular pay rate. You can pursue legal action that enables you to collect reimbursements for expenditures incurred during the 4-year period before you initiated a complaint.
A frustrating number of employers attempt to exploit employees by misclassifying them as independent contractors. They do this because independent contractors are not entitled to overtime pay, paid meal breaks, workers’ compensation, and other key benefits. You may be misclassified if you are required to regularly come into an office, receive substantial on-the-job training, or are restricted from working for other companies. Our legal team in California can help determine if you are being misclassified.
Other frequently asked questions about misclassification include:
- Are pharmacists non-exempt from overtime?
- What penalties can employers face for intentionally misclassifying employees?
- How can I tell if I have been misclassified?
Yes. California employers are required to compensate employees for both authorized and unauthorized overtime. However, employers must be made aware of unauthorized overtime work was conducted in order to issue overtime pay. An employer cannot be held accountable for unpaid wages if they were never informed of the corresponding unauthorized work. Legal action can be sought if an employer refuses to provide overtime pay after they have been informed of unauthorized work.
"Strauss & Strauss represented me in several cases against a former employer. They were taking on a Fortune 500 company that employed some of the world's biggest law firms. Michael Strauss and Andrew Ellison beat them every time."Stephen Craig
You should consider filing a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner if your employer refuses to pay the wages or benefits that you are owed. This can include overtime pay, meal period premium pay, and compensation for “off the clock” work. You can also file a civil lawsuit against your employer. If systemic misconduct is impacting many employees within the same company, it may make sense to consider a class action.
Other frequently asked questions about wage claims include:
- Can I bring an overtime class action in California?
- How do I file a wage claim in California?
- Why did the Labor Commissioner dismiss my wage claim?
Our attorneys at Strauss & Strauss, APC regularly assist clients in California, the East Bay Area, and throughout the state of California. Schedule a free case evaluation by calling (805) 303-8115 or contacting us online.
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