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Make Sure You're Getting the Minimum Wage You've Earned

California's Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2022. It's considered a major victory among many who work in industries that pay only minimum wage and offer little in the way of raises and/or advancement in the ranks. The new law builds upon the current minimum wage of $10 an hour by increasing slowly through the next six years. But there are employers who resent paying an amount that's mandated by the state, and try to take advantage of employees who may not be aware of the laws regarding their pay.

The first increase in the state minimum wage takes place on January 1, 2017, bringing it to $10.50. Employers are required to pay this amount to all minimum wage employees on that date. In the event that an employer fails to make the adjustment, they may find themselves liable for fines along with the amount they failed to pay their employees. Some employers may fail to pay due to oversight and not malice, an issue that's easily remedied by paying the deficient amount. But there are employers who take advantage of their employees in order to avoid paying out the minimum wage.

Making employees into independent contractors is one way employers try to duck out. An independent contractor is not subject to minimum wage laws and are responsible for their own employment taxes instead of the employer. But when an employer enforces control over the contractor, such as requiring them to work to a schedule, the independent contractor must be treated as an employee. Employers use this classification to skirt the law because they can pay a set rate instead of an hourly wage. This drives down the overall income for the employee, sometimes putting them beneath the minimum wage.

This is just one of the methods that unscrupulous employers use to skirt labor laws. When an employer chronically shorts their employees their state mandated wage through any number of means, it's time for the employee to contact an employment law attorney for help. Employees have rights given to them by the state of California, and a lawyer can help enforce them.


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