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Unpaid wages can add up, and the value of your claim might surprise you. These claims can be difficult to calculate, so it is important to have the help of an experienced California unpaid wages lawyer who can seek the full amount you deserve.

The first step that a California unpaid wages lawyer takes is to evaluate whether your employer violated your wage rights and owes you back pay. If so, the next step is to determine how much your unpaid wages claim should be worth. 

Some employees know they were deprived of wages they deserved, but they might not believe it is “that much” or that it is worth it to pursue a claim. However, you might be surprised how quickly unpaid wages add up, and you might also be entitled to other penalties. 

The following is an overview of how unpaid wage claims are valued. To learn about how much your specific claim might be worth, you should discuss the matter with an experienced wage attorney. 

Minimum Wage Claims

As of January 1, 2021, all California employees are entitled to a minimum wage of at least $13 or $14 per hour, depending on the size of their employer. Employees in some localities might deserve a higher minimum wage, as well. 

If you did not receive the applicable minimum wage for all hours worked, your attorney will determine how much you should have received and how much you actually received, and the difference is what you are owed. 

For example, imagine your employer stated they were paying you a “training wage” of $10 per hour for your first four weeks, when the minimum wage is $14. If you worked 40 hours per week, you lost $4 for each of those hours, totaling $640.

Overtime Claims

Under California law, non-exempt employees should receive 1.5 times their hourly wage for hours worked over 40 in a week or eight in a day. Employers can find many ways to deny employees the overtime they deserve, leading to unpaid wages. The calculation might go like this:

  1. You earn $20 per hour, so your overtime rate would be $30 per hour
  2. Your employer fails to pay you for 30 minutes of prep work you conduct each day, which would bring your daily shift to 8.5 hours, for 200 days
  3. You deserve $15 for each half hour of overtime you worked per day, adding up to $3,000 in unpaid overtime

Unpaid wages and overtime are only two reasons for unpaid wage claims. There are other calculation methods for claims involving denied break time, unlawful deductions, unpaid work expenses, unpaid vacation or sick time, and more. 

Possible Penalties

In addition to calculating your unpaid wages, there might be penalties provided under the law. These might increase the value of your claims, including:

  1. Meal and rest break violations
  2. Liquidated damages for minimum wage violations
  3. Paystub violations
  4. Final paycheck violations
  5. Sick leave violations

This is one of many reasons why you need the assistance of an experienced lawyer who knows what penalties you can seek.

Contact a California Unpaid Wages Lawyer for Help

If you think you have a claim, you should speak with an unpaid wages attorney at Mara Law Firm as soon as possible. Call (619) 234-2833 or contact us online for more information today. 

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney David Mara who has more than 20 years of legal experience in employment law.

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