Minimum Wages

The price of living in California is well above the United States average—according to USA Today, housing alone costs 76.7% more in California than in the rest of the country.

To address this concern, California has enacted numerous minimum wage laws to help struggling families afford the rising costs of living in the Golden State. For example, the minimum wage in California is set to increase to $15.50 per hour in California by 2023 for most employers.

Individual counties and cities in California have enacted their own wage ordinances to help families pay for necessities such as food, clothing, utilities, and housing, which may be more expensive in certain areas. For instance, starting July 1, 2022, the minimum wage in Los Angeles will be $16.04 and in San Francisco it will be $16.99.

Furthermore, the federal government as well as California limit the number of hours you can work in a week before you are owed overtime pay. For example, in California, if you work more than eight hours in a workday or more than forty hours in a workweek, you are entitled to overtime compensation.

Some employers in California violate the minimum wage and overtime laws by doing the following:

  • Requiring employees to work off the clock.
  • Paying employees “under the table” in cash.
  • Using tips & gratuities toward the minimum wage.
  • Miscalculating the overtime rate of pay.
  • Promising to give time off in lieu of paying wages.
  • Outright refusing to pay the correct minimum wage.

As an employee in California, you have a right to fair wages. If your employer has been paying you less than the applicable minimum wage or less than the applicable overtime wages, then you may be able to take legal action against them and recover the wages you are rightfully owed.

For a free consultation and to learn more, contact us to speak to a lawyer.



1. What is the difference between federal, state, and local minimum wage?

Most employers in California are subject to both the federal and state minimum wage laws. Also, local entities (cities and counties) are allowed to enact minimum wage rates and several cities have recently adopted ordinances which establish a higher minimum wage rate for employees working within their local jurisdiction. The effect of this multiple coverage by different government sources is that when there are conflicting requirements in the laws, the employer must follow the stricter standard; that is, the one that is the most beneficial to the employee. Thus, since California’s current law requires a higher minimum wage rate than does the federal law, all employers in California who are subject to both laws must pay the state minimum wage rate unless their employees are exempt under California law. Similarly, if a local entity (city or county) has adopted a higher minimum wage, employees must be paid the local wage where it is higher than the state or federal minimum wage rates

2. 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. Any remedial legislation written for the protection of employees may not be violated by agreement between the employer and employee.

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

Yes. There is no distinction made between adults and minors when it comes to payment of the minimum wage.

4. I work in a restaurant as a waitperson. Can my employer use my tips as a credit toward its obligation to pay me the minimum wage?

No. An employer may not use an employee’s tips as a credit toward its obligation to pay the minimum wage.  Follow the link to learn more about Tips & Gratuities.

5. What can I do if my employer doesn’t pay me at least the minimum wage?

You can either file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (the Labor Commissioner’s Office), or file a lawsuit in court against your employer to recover the lost wages. Additionally, if you no longer work for this employer, you can make a claim for the waiting time penalty pursuant to Labor Code Section 203.

6. What can I do if my employer retaliates against me because I questioned him about not being paid the minimum wage?

If your employer discriminates or retaliates against you in any manner whatsoever, for example, he discharges you because you asked him why you weren’t being paid the minimum wage, or because you file a claim or threaten to file a claim with the Labor Commissioner, you can file a discrimination/retaliation complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. Alternatively, you can file a lawsuit in court against your employer.

For a free consultation and to learn more, contact us to speak to a lawyer.