California Minimum Wage Attorneys

At the Mara Law Firm, our Minimum Wage attorneys are proud to fight for the rights of California workers through individual litigation and class action lawsuits.


California’s Minimum Wage is Higher than Almost Every State in The Country

Below, our California Minimum Wage Attorneys, explains important information.

The following is a chart of how much California’s minimum wage will increase over the next few years:

Employers with 26 or more employees:

  1. January 1, 2017 – $10.50 per hour
  2. January 1, 2018 – $11.00 per hour
  3. January 1, 2019 – $12.00 per hour
  4. January 1, 2020 – $13.00 per hour
  5. January 1, 2021 – $14.00 per hour
  6. January 1, 2022 – $15.00/hour

Employers with 26 or fewer employees:

  1. January 1, 2017 – $10.00 per hour
  2. January 1, 2018 – $10.50 per hour
  3. January 1, 2019 – $11.00 per hour
  4. January 1, 2020 – $12.00 per hour
  5. January 1, 2021 – $13.00 per hour
  6. January 1, 2022 – $14.00 per hour
  7. January 1, 2023 – $15.00 per hour

Is it illegal to pay under minimum wage in California?

California Unpaid Minimum Wage Lawyers

It is illegal for employers to pay less than minimum wage in California. Employees found to be deprived of a minimum wage for all hours worked in California are entitled to “liquidated damages,” which essentially means you could be entitled to twice the amount of wages taken from you.

In addition to the above, the California minimum wage comes with considerable teeth: Non-exempt employees paid less than minimum wage are entitled to recover in a civil action the overdue balance of the full amount of the minimum wage, including interest, reasonable attorney’s fees, and costs of suit. Labor Code. This is why it’s important to get in touch with the best minimum wage attorney to help you file your compensation claim.

The following links explain the common tactics employers resort to to pay less than minimum wage, tactics that result in taking substantial amounts of money from California employees every day:

Piece-Rate Pay Structures and Unpaid Minimum Wage

California requires minimum wage compensation for each hour worked, and employers are obligated by law to pay at least minimum wage for all hours worked. Many California workers – like truck drivers and agricultural workers – are not paid by the hour, but by formulas that measure compensation by the amount of “pieces” or tasks of work completed. For instance, truck drivers are often paid by the miles they drive. Likewise, agricultural workers are oftentimes paid by the amount of produce they harvest per day. These pay structures are called piece-rate pay structures or task-based pay.

Under California law, piece-rate pay structures must separately compensate employees for all tasks at the applicable minimum wage. In the example with the driver paid by the mile, the driver is only getting paid when he or she is driving. The per-mile pay structure does not separately compensate for all time spent performing non-driving tasks such as loading, unloading, and securing freight, waiting at terminals while trucks are being loaded or unloaded, fueling, or waiting in long inspection lines – all of which must be compensated at least at California’s minimum wage. Piece-rate pay plans like this often result in employees working several hours a day without any compensation.

If you have suffered wage theft in California through an unlawful piece-rate pay structure, contact one of our California Minimum Wage Attorneys near you immediately, as there may be a limited timeframe for you to bring your claim for overdue wages.

What about Pooling / Sharing and Unpaid Minimum Wage?

In California, it is permissible for employers to make their employees share tips with other employees. Tips, however, may not be shared or pooled with supervisors or managers. Tips may also not be used to supplement an hourly rate in an attempt to meet or exceed the applicable minimum wage. These seem like easy rules to follow, but many employers choose cost savings over paying employees wages that are rightfully theirs. If you have suffered wage loss in the form of unlawful tip pooling/sharing in California, contact our office immediately as there may be a limited timeframe for you to bring your claim for unpaid wages. See also the following link for further information: Labor Code

California Unlawful Salary, Unlawful Daily Rate, and Unpaid Minimum Wage

Non-exempt employees must be paid for all hours worked at the applicable minimum wage. Salaried and daily or flat rate workers both are paid without regard to the number of hours they work – they will be paid the same amount no matter how many hours they work. Although it is technically legal in California to pay non-exempt workers by salary or daily rate, there are strict rules employers have to follow, which all too often they fail to satisfy.

In California, a salary or a fixed daily rate can only compensate for non-overtime hours. The salary or fixed daily rate does not pay non-exempt employees for any work over eight days and forty weekly hours. If employers do not pay extra compensation beyond the salary or fixed daily rate that equates to at least the applicable minimum wage for all hours over eight days and/or forty weekly hours, employees are being paid nothing for those hours, which violates California’s minimum wage laws.

Also, the daily rate or salary must compensate non-exempt employees for all hours worked at the applicable minimum wage per hour. To determine this, the daily rate amount must be divided by 8 hours and the salary paid per week must be divided by 40 weekly hours. For instance, if an employee is paid a daily rate of $120/day. To determine if the daily rate does not violate California’s minimum wage laws, you would divide 120 by 8, which equals $15.00. As $15.00 per hour is more than the applicable minimum wage, this flat daily rate would not violate California’s minimum wage for non-overtime hours worked, i.e., 8 daily or 40 weekly. If, however, the employee works over eight hours in a day and is paid nothing beyond the daily rate, the employee would be effectively receiving no compensation for those hours over eight, which violates California’s minimum wage laws as well as California’s overtime laws.

Likewise, if a non-exempt employee were receiving a salary of, say, $500/week, to determine whether the salary pays an hourly rate that is not less than the applicable minimum wage, you would divide 500 by 40, which also equals $12.50. Like the daily rate, though, when the employee works over 40 weekly hours, he or she must be paid additional compensation that is not less than the applicable minimum wage and applicable overtime rate.

If you have suffered wage theft in California due to being paid an unlawful fixed daily rate or unlawful salary, contact our office immediately, If you have suffered wage loss in the form of unlawful tip pooling/sharing in California, contact our office immediately as there may be a limited timeframe for you to bring your claim for unpaid wages.

Unlawful Commission Pay and California Unpaid Minimum Wage

Many employers will pay employees who work away from the office and are involved in sales on a commission, not an hourly, basis. If the employee does not meet what is called the “outside salesperson” exemption test, the employer must pay the employee the applicable minimum wage for all hours worked. Employers save considerable amounts of money by paying on a commission-only basis because they get exhaustive hours of work out of their employees without paying minimum wage and only pay them when the employer’s bottom line increases.

California law will only permit employees to be exempt from minimum wage and overtime under the outside salesperson exemption when all of the following apply:

  1. The employee is 18 years or older
  2. The employee regularly spends more than half of his or her work time away from the employer’s place of business
  3. The employee sells items or obtains orders or contracts for products, services, or the use of facilities

Here’s the tell-tale sign that an employee does not meet the outside salesperson exemption and must be paid the applicable minimum wage and overtime for all hours worked. If the employee spends less than 50% of his or her time doing non-sales tasks, the employee is not an outside salesperson and must be paid for all overtime and minimum wage and must be provided with all required meal breaks and rest breaks. This means, if the employee works away from the employer’s facility for more than 50% of the time, but does not spend over 50% of the time doing sales related work, they are not outside salespersons and must be paid for all overtime and minimum wage and must be provided with all required meal breaks and rest breaks. The same is true if the commissioned employee spends most of his or her time doing sales work, such as over the phone, on the internet, or at an employer’s satellite facility, but does not perform those tasks away from the employer’s premises.

Why is Important to Choose The Best California Minimum Wage Attorney?

If you are a victim of a labor law violation, your employer refuses to pay you the minimum wage or overtime that you earned, you need help from an experienced minimum wage attorney as soon as possible to represent you and get the best possible outcome for your wage and overtime situation.

Get in touch with our California Minimum Wage Attorneys

California Employment Attorney David Mara

If you have been wrongly classified as an outside salesperson, you are likely out a substantial sum of money and should take action to get it back. Contact our California Minimum Wage Attorneys at the Mara Law Firm immediately, as there may be a limited timeframe for you to bring your claim for unpaid overtime.

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California Minimum Wage FAQs 

It’s always a good idea to learn more about your rights, especially if this is your first job. You don’t want to be taken advantage of by your employer because you don’t know your rights under employment laws. Here are some common questions we hear frequently about minimum wage.


What is the Minimum Exempt Salary in California 2022?

Exempt employees in California usually must earn a minimum monthly salary of no less than twice the state minimum wage for full-time employment. In 2022, the minimum salary for exempt employees is for Employers with 1-25 employees: $58,240 per year and for employers with 26 or more employees: $62,400 per year.

What is the Minimum Wage in California?

Twenty-five of the 50 states are raising their minimum wages in 2022, and California is one of them. After this increase to $15.00 per hour, California will officially have the second-highest minimum wage in the country. This $15 per hour minimum wage only applies, however, to companies in the Golden State with over 25 employees. Smaller California employers will only need to pay $14/hour.


I Am a Waitress. Can My Employer Count My Tips as Wages?

Definitely not. The federal government does allow employers to count tips towards wages for tipped workers, but the State of California does not. You should also know that it is against the law for your supervisor to ask you for even a penny of your tips. Tip pooling is legal, though, if it is done correctly. 


What is the California under 18 minimum wage?

The youth minimum wage for California employers under 18 years old and minors is $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of employment. California Student Minimum Wage is $11.90 per hour for up to 20 hours of work per week.

How much does a full time minimum wage worker make a year in California?

In 2022, the lowest amount for minimum wage in California is $14.00 per hour. If working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, a full-time worker in California will make $112.00 per day$560.00 per week, around $2,426.66 per month, and $29,120.00 per year.

I’m Undocumented. Will I Get Deported If I File a Claim Against My Employer?

While the risk of deportation is always present to some degree, your employer would be guilty of discrimination if they reported you to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as retaliation for you reporting them to the state. Moreover, your employer could be fined and penalized for hiring an undocumented worker. Frequently, in work environments with an undocumented worker being paid less than minimum wage, there are going to be other workers in the same position at that job. There is safety in numbers. Talk to a lawyer about a class-action lawsuit against the employer and try to get as many of the underpaid, undocumented workers to participate as possible.


Need a California Employment Lawyer?

The Mara Law Firm can help if your employer is violating your rights or not paying you the legally required wage. We have been handling cases just like this almost exclusively for two decades. Please contact us to set up a free legal consultation.


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