California Minimum Wage Laws

california minimum wages laws

Your time and labor are valuable, so it’s important to ensure your employer pays you what you’re worth.

In most cases, you should be receiving the California minimum wage rate or more for your hard work.

If you’re concerned your boss hasn’t been paying you what’s legally required under California minimum wage laws, you could be the victim of wage theft.

As a victim of theft, you have every right to demand adequate pay from your employer.

Ottinger Employment Lawyers has helped thousands of employees with work disputes, and we can help you recoup what you are owed from your employer.

Below, let’s go over how to identify wage theft in your workplace. 

Understand What Minimum Wage Is in California

Almost all employers in California have to pay their employees minimum wage. Since January 1, 2017, the minimum wage rate employers must pay in California has increased on an annual basis.

California minimum wage in 2021 was $13.00 per hour for employers with 25 employees or fewer and $14.00 per hour for employers with more than 25 employees.

As of January 1, 2022, the minimum wage is $14.00 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $15.00 per hour for employers with more than 25 employees. 

If you have worked for your employer for several years and you’ve been making minimum wage, check your pay stubs to make sure that your employer has properly increased your wages each year to comply with California’s laws.

You can regularly check the California Department of Industrial Relations’s website to find the state’s changing minimum wage rates. 

Know Who Is and Isn’t Entitled to Minimum Wage

Most—but not all—of California employees have a right to minimum wage. If you have one of the following jobs, your employer might not have to pay you minimum wage: 

  • Outside salesperson;
  • Learner or trainee (for the first 160 hours of work); or 
  • Indentured apprentice.

Your employer also doesn’t have to pay you minimum wage if you’re their spouse, child, or parent.

If you’re still in the first 160 hours of a learning and training period, you’re not entitled to minimum wage, but your employer can’t pay you less than 85% of the minimum wage (rounded to the nearest nickel).

Clearly, some of these rules can get a little tricky, so it’s best to speak to an experienced employment attorney about your rights and options. 

What to Do If You Are a Victim of Wage Theft

If your employer hasn’t paid you minimum wage, you can recover proper wages (and sometimes penalties) by filing a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

You can also usually file a lawsuit in civil court. Depending on the circumstances, you have between one and three years to file a complaint regarding improper payment of wages earned.  

Our Attorneys Are Ready to Fight for Your Livelihood

Challenging your employer can be intimidating, but sometimes it’s necessary. We have over 20 years of employment law experience at Ottinger Employment Lawyers.

We have the skill and passion required to fight for your right to just compensation. There’s no employment case too sophisticated or too basic for us. Call us at 213-204-8002 or contact us online for a consultation

Author Photo

Robert Ottinger, Esq.

Robert Ottinger is an employment attorney who focuses on representing executives and employees in employment disputes. Before starting his firm, Robert slugged it out in courtrooms trying cases for the government. Robert served as a Deputy Attorney General for the California Department of Justice in Los Angeles and then as Assistant Attorney General for the New York Attorney General’s Office in Manhattan.

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