California’s Harsher Penalties For Hour And Wage Violations

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Denis ZilberbergMarch 16, 2019Wage & Hour Law

California’s wage and hour laws are more favorable to workers than federal wage and hour laws, which means that California businesses are subject to harsher standards and penalties for violations than businesses in other states that simply adopt federal wage and hour law. For example, California’s minimum wage is higher than federal law and California requires that employees are paid for all hours worked while federal law does not require employers to pay for work that is ancillary to an employee’s job duties.

As Los Angeles wage and hour issues attorneys know and as Virgin Airlines recently found out, it is good to be an employee in California, but California businesses are held to a higher standard when it comes to labour laws. In California, when businesses violate state labour laws, they pay the price.

Virgin Airlines lawsuit

At the end of January, flight attendants involved in a class-action lawsuit against Virgin Airlines were awarded $77 million in damages for Virgin’s wage and hour violations. The lawsuit alleged that flight attendants were not paid for time worked before, between, and after their flights as well as time for training and drug tests. It also alleged that they were not paid overtime and minimum wage and that flight attendant were not provided meal and rest breaks.

The airline argued that federal deregulation preempted state law, but Virgin’s main defense was that California labour laws did not apply because the flight attendants did not work principally or exclusively in California. The judge disagreed, reasoning that Virgin’s headquarters were located in California and thus, California wage and hour laws apply.

Plaintiffs’ award

The plaintiffs were granted summary judgment in the amount of $77 million. The plaintiffs’ award included more than $45,000 in damages and restitution for unpaid wages, overtime, and meal and rest breaks that were not provided. Civil penalties for almost $25,000 were awarded. The remainder was made up of penalties and interest. This ruling was certainly a win for the plaintiffs, but Virgin is expected to appeal.

California overtime and minimum wage laws

In general, with some exceptions, California commissioned employees are entitled to receive minimum wage for hours worked. They are also entitled to overtime when they work more than 8 hours in a day, more than 40 hours in a week, and more than six consecutive days in a week. And as previously mentioned, California requires that employees be paid for ancillary job duties, which is partly where Virgin Airlines got hung up in the aforementioned case.

If you believe your employer has violated federal or California labor laws, contact a Los Angeles hour and wage issues attorney at The Kaufman Law Firm for a consultation. Our attorneys have spent more than 20 years fighting for employees’ rights. They are employee advocates and labor law experts who will work to see that employee victims are fully and fairly compensated and that employers are held accountable for their wrongful conduct.



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