Fair pay is an important legal right. State and federal laws prohibit pay discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, and other protected classes. It is important to hold employers accountable for illegal pay discrimination to prevent them from getting away with it in the future. Here are some tips for what to do if you think you’re being underpaid.
In some cases, underpayment is the result of a simple clerical error. Your hours or wages might have been entered incorrectly in the employer’s payroll software. Your overtime hours might have been entered at your regular rate of pay. If you believe it was a genuine clerical error, and not an attempt to get out paying what you are owed, the problem can often be resolved with documentation of the mistake.
State law sets overtime requirements. If you work more than eight hours in a day or forty hours in a week, you are entitled to overtime pay of “time and a half” (1.5 times your usual hourly rate). This rule applies whether the employer has authorized the overtime in advance or not. Some employees are exempt from overtime rules. Salaried executive, administrative and professional employees are usually classified as “exempt,” and this protects the employer from having to pay them overtime wages. Your position must be clearly identified as exempt when you accept the job. If not, your employer cannot later try to reclassify your job as exempt in order to get out of paying overtime.
Employees must be paid for attending training and other mandatory events. In general, your employer cannot require your attendance at a work event without paying you. Ask an employment lawyer about any additional work events you must attend. Some exceptions apply, but it is likely that any outside events will require hourly pay if your attendance is mandatory.
The law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex/gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, or disability. If you are paid less than someone else in a substantially similar position, it is important to find out why. Your employer is not likely to admit that there is pay discrimination. Even if they provide some pretext for pay discrepancies, it is still possible to prove that the pay difference is actually illegal discrimination. Employers actively discourage their employees from comparing pay. While there are some legitimate reasons for doing so, such rules also prevent employees from discovering pay discrimination. Consult with a lawyer about your rights to discover whether you are being paid differently – and how to do so lawfully.
Minnis and Smallets is a California employment law firm that protects workers’ rights. We handle all types of wage and hour claims, including pay discrimination cases. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced San Francisco employment law attorney.
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