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Some common employment claims are described below.
Commissions: The term “commission” is used in many ways during daily conversation. You may have heard people refer to various types of bonuses as commissions. Technically speaking, a commission means that the employee’s payment is a percentage of the value or price paid. Labor Code § 204.1 states: “Commission wages are compensation paid to any person for services rendered in the sale of such employer's property or services and based proportionately upon the amount or value thereof.”
Failure to accommodate: If an employee has an eligible disability, which is a lenient standard in California, an employer who is aware of the disability may have an obligation to speak to the employee about any needed modifications to the employee’s work duties. An employee may prevail in a failure to accommodate claim if the employer could have provided a reasonable accommodation for the disability without causing any danger to the employee or any other person’s health or safety and without causing any undue hardship to the operation of the employers’ business.
Failure to investigate: If an employer receives a report that harassment or discrimination has occurred, it has a duty to investigate the alleged incident of harassment or discrimination. If the employer does not investigate, or if the employer’s investigation is not sufficiently thorough, the employee may prevail in a claim for failure to investigate. It is critical that a thorough investigation be completed so that the employer can make an informed decision regarding any necessary steps.
Failure to provide: Employees in California have many rights that separate them from independent contractors, such as detailed payroll documentation and specific meal and rest breaks. Employees can sue employers for the failure to provide meal periods on time, the failure to provide detailed wage statements (aka paystubs) or the failure to provide a written commission agreement. Employers who fail to implement compliant policies and practices may be found liable for failure to provide appropriate meal breaks or rest breaks or failure to provide compliant wage statements.
Final paycheck: California has detailed rules regarding final paychecks. If an employee is fired, the final paycheck must be provided at the same time the employee is being terminated. This is true regardless of whether the employee is laid off due to insufficient work or terminated for poor performance. For employees who quit, the final paycheck is also due on the date of resignation if the employee gave more than 72 hours advanced notice of resignation. If the employee did not give such advanced notice, then the final paycheck is due 72 hours after the final date of employment.
Final wages: California has detailed rules regarding final wages. If an employee is fired, the final wages must be provided at the same time the employee is being terminated. This is true regardless of whether the employee is laid off due to insufficient work or terminated for poor performance. For employees who quit, final wages also due on the date of resignation if the employee gave more than 72 hours advanced notice of resignation. If the employee did not give such advanced notice, then final wages are due 72 hours after the final date of employment.
Off the clock: Employees suffering from off the clock work may have very lucrative legal claims. California law makes clear that employees must be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked. Thus, any time an hourly employee is working but not clocked in can be considered off the clock work, triggering a claim for unpaid wages. Claims for off the clock work can be very valuable for several reasons. First, they can recover unpaid wages for four (4) years prior to the date when the complaint is filed. Second, winning a claim for unpaid wages generally triggers the right to other sums of money such as penalties and attorney fees.
Paid on time: Employers must pay wages on time based on deadlines set in the Labor Code, although employers have several options regarding when to pay. Work performed by an hourly employee from the 1st to the 15th of the month must be paid by the 26th of the month, and work performed from the 16 to the end of the month must be paid by the 10th of the following month. Alternatively, the employer can pay according another regular schedule provided wages are paid within 7 days of the close of the pay period. Finally, for overtime exempt (aka salaried) employees, employers can pay all wages for the month in one payment provided it is paid by the 26th of the month.