New 2020 Minimum Wage Increase for California Workers

Posted by Joe Sayas | Jan 23, 2020

What is the new minimum wage?      

Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum wage in California will be $12.00 per hour for employers with 25 employees or less. For employers with 26 employees or more, the minimum wage is now $13.00 per hour. Most employees in California are entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage. This new rate also affects overtime pay. Employees who are paid the minimum wage of $12 per hour and work overtime must be paid $18 per hour for all work beyond 8 hours per day up to 12 hours (“time-and-a-half”), and $24 per hour for all work beyond 12 hours per day (“double-time”).

What is the difference between the state and federal minimum wage?
The current federal minimum wage rate is $7.25 per hour. Employers who are subject to both the federal and state minimum wage laws must follow the law that is more beneficial to the employee. Since California's current minimum wage rate is higher than the federal minimum wage, the state minimum wage rate must be paid unless an exemption applies.

What kinds of employees are affected by the minimum wage increase?

Aside from hourly (or “non-exempt”) employees, the increase in minimum wage also boosts the pay of most employees legally “exempt” from the overtime rules. True exempt employees (Executive, Administrative, or Professional employees) must be paid a salary rate that is at least twice the state minimum wage for full-time monthly employment. The minimum monthly salary for most exempt employees is now increased to $4,506.67 per month (or $54,080 annually). 

May an employee agree to work for less than the minimum wage?
No. The minimum wage is an obligation of the employer and cannot be waived by any agreement, including collective bargaining agreements. Laws enacted for the protection of employees may not be avoided by agreement between the employer and employee.

Is the minimum wage the same for both adult and minor employees?

Yes. The law does not make a distinction between adults and minors in the payment of the minimum wage.

Can a restaurant use the tips received by a waiter/waitress as a credit toward its obligation to pay the minimum wage?
No. An employer may not use an employee's tips as a credit toward its obligation to pay the minimum wage.

What can I do if my employer doesn't pay me at least the minimum wage?
You can file a lawsuit in state or federal court against your employer to recover the lost wages or you can file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner's Office. Additionally, if you no longer work for this employer, you can make a claim for waiting time penalty. If your claim is filed in court, you may also recover the minimum wage violation penalty ($100 for each underpaid employee for first pay period of violation and $250 per employee for each subsequent pay periods) interest, costs, and attorneys' fees.

What can I do if my employer retaliates against me because I complained about not being paid the minimum wage?
If your employer retaliates against you in any manner (for example, by firing, suspending, demoting or assigning to a less advantageous position) because you complained about not being paid the minimum wage, or because you filed a claim or hired an attorney to file a claim for minimum wage violations, you may file a claim for retaliation in state or federal court against your employer. Consult with an experienced lawyer if you believe your rights are violated in the workplace.

About the Author

Joe Sayas

C. JOE SAYAS, JR., Esq. Recognized as one of California's top employment and labor law attorneys by the Daily Journal, C. Joe Sayas, Jr. has devoted his more than 25-year litigation career to protecting workers' and consumer rights. He has fought for employees discriminated due to disability, ra...

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