Prevailing wage non-payment
Prevailing wage non-payment refers to a situation where an employer either under pays or fails to pay their employees the prevailing wage rate required by law for work performed.
There are many forms of non-payment:
- No meal and rest breaks
- Off-the-clock work requirement
- Non-payment or underpayment of overtime
- Pay based on the wrong work classification
- Fringe benefits fraud
- Unpaid travel time
In every case, the employer is guilty of non-payment.
Types of non-payment
Meal and rest breaks
Employees are entitled to regular breaks for meals and rest. These rights are documented by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and required on all public works projects. If you are not provided time for meal and rest breaks or you are required to clock out during these times, you may have a case for non-payment.
Employers sometimes shave hours from their employees and do not pay for all hours worked. This is illegal and is against the California Labor Code. Even if the time shaved seems small it can add up to a lot of money lost to the employee. For example, 15 minutes shaved off the clock every day amounts to more than 60 hours per year.
Another way employers may short workers is through non-payment of overtime. In California, any work after 8 hours in a day on a public works project is considered overtime. Similarly, if you work more than 40 hours in a week, you should be paid the overtime rate. You deserve to be paid the proper rate for work on any public works project.
Wrong rate or classification
The DIR sets pay rates based on work classifications. These classifications and rates may vary by region and include a pay rate, fringe benefits and overtime rates. Employers must determine the proper classification for the work you perform. If they misclassify you, they may be liable for damages. If you perform different classifications of work, your employer must calculate the proper rate for the hours spent on each type of work. For example, if you spend 4 hours painting and 4 hours doing carpentry, you must be paid 4 hours for each classification. Misclassification often results in underpayment, which is considered non-payment of wages.
Fringe benefit fraud
The prevailing wage rate has two components: a basic rate and fringe benefits. Employers must either provide the benefits required or pay the employee the specified fringe benefits rate. The proper rates are clearly identified by the California Department of Industrial Relations and can be found on the DIR website.
Unpaid travel time
Employers are obligated to pay employees for travel time that is under the direction and control of the employer. For example, if the employee must first report to a central location and then travel together with others to the project, the employer must pay for the travel time between the two locations. In most cases the time should be paid at the prevailing wage rate. Other so-called travel rates, basic rates or minimum wage are in most cases a violation of prevailing wage law.
Are you entitled to unpaid wages?
There is no excuse for prevailing wage non-payment. If your employer has under paid you or not paid you for work performed, the law has been broken.
If you think you have been paid incorrectly, contact Donahoo & Associates, PC today for a confidential discussion and analysis of your payment history.