Did you know that your employer is legally required to provide you with at least a 30-minute meal for a shift lasting over five hours? But only in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California, as these meal breaks are not being regulated in other states.
Three Heavenly Couture employees learned about it the hard way, when they sued their employer for “forcing” them to work during lunch hours.
Fact: California laws set the minimum wage at $9 per hour, while federal laws require a minimum of $7.25 per hour. The plaintiffs – Carly, Sara and Ally – sued their company in federal court, which, as they learned after the judge’s ruling, was a huge mistake. The workers’ class-action lawsuit alleging violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was dismissed.
Now, if the plaintiffs were represented by a skilled Los Angeles overtime attorney, they would clearly be told to cite violations of California law, not FLSA violations.
If this sounds confusing, let our overtime attorney Jeffrey Rager explain…
Federal laws do not have any meal break requirements
Did you know that many employment regulations actually differ between Los Angeles (and other cities of California) and all other states?
This includes meal requirements in California. Under California laws, employees are entitled to a meal break of at least 30 minutes for a shift lasting at least five hours. Under federal laws, meanwhile, there are no meal break requirements.
In the case of the three Heavenly Couture employees against the retailer, the plaintiffs alleged they were working 40 hours in a workweek because their employer forced them to work through their breaks.
However, the court dismissed their claim, as under the FLSA, overtime is calculated only when employees work over 40 hours in a workweek (or more than eight hours in a single workday).
While forcing the employee to work through meal breaks and other breaks in a workday is a clear violation of California laws, the Heavenly Couture employer’s conduct did not violate the FLSA, our overtime attorneys at Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers explain. Even though the judge dismissed their federal claim in the lawsuit, the plaintiffs may still be able to recover compensation under California employment law.
Difference between California laws and federal laws
Cases like these are not uncommon all across California, where many employees don’t realize that overtime is calculated differently in the state and other states of our country.
Being legally represented by a Los Angeles overtime lawyer allows California employees to learn all the differences between California and federal employment laws in order to know your employment rights and determine if your employer’s actions violate any of the laws.
Under California laws, employers are required to pay their employees 1.5 times their regular hourly wage for any hours worked over eight in a workday. Similarly, California employers are required to provide overtime pay to workers for working any hours on the seventh consecutive workday in a single workweek (the maximum overtime pay in this case is eight hours).
Also, employees in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California are entitled to overtime pay 2.0 times their regular hourly wage for any hours worked after twelve in a single workday (and all hours worked after eight on the seventh consecutive workday of a workweek).
How are federal employment laws different from California?
Under the FLSA, employees are only entitled to overtime for working over 40 hours in a workweek. Meaning: regardless of how many hours you work in a single workday – eight or 12 – you’re entitled to only 1.5x overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 hours in a week.
However, if you can prove that your employer willfully refused to pay overtime for working over 40 hours in a week, you may be entitled to liquidated damages of double your overtime. California employment laws, meanwhile, provide no such damage provisions.
Many workers in Los Angeles and all across California are confused by the differences between state and federal employment laws, which is why their lawsuits against employers oftentimes get dismissed by judges.
That’s why it’s so critical to be represented by a skilled overtime attorney in order not only to learn your employment rights, but also to file a bullet-proof lawsuit that is guaranteed to recover damages and result in your VICTORY.
Consult our best employment lawyers at Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers about your particular case by calling our Los Angeles offices at 310-527-6994 or fill out this contact form. We offer a free case evaluation.
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