A Trio of California Restaurant Workers Receive $120K in Back Wages, Penalties, and Compensation for Rest and Meal Breaks Their Employer Illegally Denied Them
California is home to roughly 1.1 million undocumented workers. More than half of those 1.1 million work in a small cluster of industries, of which restaurant employment is one. Although the law gives these workers (like all workers) certain rights, they remain vulnerable in many ways, including threats of deportation if they try to stand up for those rights.
Others workers often face similar problems, only with something other than deportation representing the "stick" at the end of the threat. Whether you're a citizen, a documented non-citizen worker, or an undocumented worker, don't let anyone intimidate you from standing up for your rights. Instead, reach out to a California unpaid overtime lawyer
who can help you protect yourself and your family.
Once you initiate a lawsuit for wage-and-hour violations, the recovery available may come via various categories of damages and the total sum can be substantial. As an example, there's this recent wage and hour
case from Southern California.
The three employees served as kitchen workers and dishwashers in the defendant's restaurant. Allegedly, the employer paid them only a flat weekly rate, regardless of the number of hours they worked, even though none qualified as exempt workers. On top of that, the employer did not provide them with meal breaks, even though it typically scheduled them to work 11-hour shifts, according to the complaint.
The evidence in the case showed that, for each employee, their pay periods generally were either 14, 15, or 16 days long, and each worker received nearly the same amount of pay each time. The employer's recordkeeping allegedly violated several laws, such as California's requirement that employers keep timecards that accurately reflect the number of hours employees worked.
When you go to court and establish that your employer maintained inadequate time and pay records, that works to your advantage, as it allows the court to construe that absence in your favor and against your employer.
A Variety of Illegal Pay Practices
In the end, the trial court ruled in favor of the workers (and the Court of Appeal later affirmed that decision.) The trial court found that the restaurant illegally failed to provide the workers with rest breaks. (California law requires that employers provide rest breaks
of at least 10 minutes for every four hours or "major fraction" thereof worked.)
The trial court also found that the employer illegally failed to provide meal breaks. (California says that employers must provide a meal break
of at least 30 minutes for each worker who works more than five hours per day. That means that, during an eight-hour shift, a non-exempt employee would be entitled, at a minimum, to one 30-minute meal break and two 10-minutes rest breaks).
Each of the three men was entitled to back wages and various penalty compensation related to the lack of meal breaks, rest breaks, etc. In total, that meant the workers received more than $120,000.
Regardless of where your work and regardless of your immigration status, you have rights under California law regarding the pay and the breaks you receive. The skilled San Mateo wage and hour attorneys at Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP are here to help workers
who have denied what the law says they are entitled to. We have dedicated many years to helping workers succeed in minimum wage, unpaid overtime
, and other wage and hour actions.
To set up a free consultation with one of our helpful attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.