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Stand Up To Wage Theft!

Posted by Frank Kim | Oct 14, 2020

Are you a Victim?

If you are a victim of Wage Theft, you may be entitled to back pay, penalties, and interest. A partial payment of a day's wages could result in a recovery of over $15,000!

What Is Wage Theft?

Wage theft is the illegal practice of not paying workers for all of their work. including. In Los Angeles County alone, an estimated 654,914 workers are victims of a pay-based violation, which suggests that workers lose $26.2 million in wage theft violations every week – making it the wage theft capital of the country.

Common examples of wage theft:

  • Misclassified as independent contractors
  • Working off the clock
  • No paying overtime
  • Denied meal and rest breaks
  • Stealing tips

Here Is A Wage Claim Example

Can a one-day shoot f or $500 lead to wage claim for over $20,000?

Models frequently engage in one-or-two-day photo shoots for a flat amount per day, regardless of the hours they actually worked. For example, a production company may agree to pay a model a day-long shoot at a flat rate of $500 per day. This may benefit the model if the shoot is only a few hours long, since he or she is still guaranteed a payment of $500. However, this is rarely the case. More often than not, production companies know that the photo shoot will take over 8 hours to complete and tries to use the wage agreements to avoid paying overtime. This is illegal under California law.

Under California law, any agreement with a nonexempt employee that compensates the employee for a guaranteed salary for both regular time and overtime hours is illegal. [Footnote: LC 515(d).] In other words, the payment of a fixed salary to a nonexempt employee will be deemed to provide compensation for the employee's regular, non-overtime hours. This is true regardless of any written agreement to the contrary. [Footnote: DLSE Policies and Interpretations Manual 49.1.5.]

For example, suppose you enter into an agreement to do a one-day photo shoot for $500 flat and the entire photo shoot takes 10 hours.

Are you entitled to more than $500 due to the extra 4 hours of overtime? Yes! Here is the overtime calculation.

Regular Wage (8 hours) California law considers your “daily wage” to be for 8 hours only, even if your agreement states otherwise $500 $500
Overtime Wage (2 hours) Overtime is 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for all hours in excess of 8 hours.
  • Regular Rate of Pay: this is determined by dividing the total compensation by the maximum regular hours in a workday. Here, this is $500/8 hours, or $62.50 per hour.
  • Overtime Pay: 1.5 * $62.50 per hour * 2 hours
  Total Wage $687.50

In addition, California law has long favored the full and prompt payment of wages. Thus, Labor Code 203, you may be entitled to “waiting time penalties” for the employer's willful failure to pay “any wages” due at the conclusion of the employment relationship – including overtime wages.

Waiting time penalties are calculated by multiplying the daily wage by the number of days that the employee was not paid, up to a maximum of 30 days. The 30-day period is calendar days, and includes weekends and holidays and any other days that the employee would not normally work.

From the above example:

Daily Wage $687.50
Waiting Time Penalty = $687.50 * 30 days $20,625

Moreover, the good news is that since the the waiting time penalty is not wages, thus, no taxes or other deductions are taken from the penalty payment! That's $26,250 cash in your pocket!

About the Author

Frank Kim

MANAGING PARTNER Frank Kim is an experienced attorney with a passion for vindicating the rights of workers and consumer against corporate abuse.  Prior to law school, Mr. Kim founded an interfaith-based non-profit to support low-wage workers in organizing campaigns throughout Southern California...

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