Employment Law — Wage and Hour Disputes

Piece-Rate Claims

Piece-rate or piecework is defined as work paid for according to a set rate per unit. Under a piece-rate compensation plan, non-exempt employees are paid a fixed amount on the basis of the tasks completed or the number of units produced, regardless of the time spent.

In California, the piece-rate earned must equal or exceed the State’s minimum wage rate for all hours worked. Additionally under California law, where non-exempt employees are purportedly paid by the piece, the employer must separately compensate employees for all hours spent performing non-piece- rate work. This includes compensation for pre- and post-shift duties as well as for waiting time between tasks. Furthermore, an employer must separately compensate a piece-rate worker for all legally required rest breaks and provide overtime compensation, as applicable.

Employers expose themselves to significant liability when they fail to properly compensate their piece-rate employees. At Shanberg Stafford & Bartz, we have successfully pursued claims on behalf of piece-rate employees who were not properly compensated for all hours worked. Contact us if you believe that you have a piece-rate claim against your employer.

California Wage and Hour Attorneys | Newport Beach

Overtime ● Minimum Wage ● PAGA ● Child Labor Laws

If an employer fails to pay required overtime, it can be held liable for unpaid overtime, penalties, and attorney's fees. In cases where an employer clearly ignored or attempted to circumvent overtime pay requirements, an employee may be awarded overtime pay going back as far as four years, as well as waiting time penalties under the California Labor Code. Employers cannot attempt to settle wage and hour claims for less than the undisputed amount of what an employee is owed - even if an employee signs an agreement that is intended to nullify the right of the worker to seek additional damages.

Do I have a Wage and Hour Claims Case?

If you're unsure whether you have a legal basis for pursuing a wage and hour case, ask yourself the following:

  • Have you been denied overtime pay?
  • Have you been deprived of proper daily meal and rest breaks?
  • Are you waiting for your final paycheck after being laid off?
  • Have you been denied minimum wage for all hours of work?

At the law offices of Shanberg, Stafford & Bartz LLP, located in Newport Beach, we represent employees in wage and hour claims against employers.

Under California wage and hour laws, non-exempt workers have many rights including the right to be paid a minimum wage, the right to overtime pay, the right to daily meal and rest breaks, and the right to immediate payment of all wages due and owing at termination of employment.

If you believe you have been wrongfully denied wages or other compensation you have earned, please contact us.

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We are knowledgeable in both state and federal employment law. Just as important, we fight for the rights of the people we serve. Our attorneys are experienced and aggressive trial lawyers. We have what it takes to get results quickly.

At Shanberg, Stafford & Bartz LLP, we represent workers in wage and hour disputes and other employment law matters, including:

  • Minimum wage disputes
  • Overtime pay disputes
  • Unpaid wages
  • Unpaid meal and rest breaks
  • Unpaid vacation
  • Unequal pay
  • Harassment and discrimination
  • Waiting time penalties
  • Employee misclassification
  • Child Labor Law violations

The California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA)

In general, California's Labor and Workforce Development Agency ("LWDA") is authorized to assess and collect civil penalties against employers that violate certain provisions of the Labor Code. However, the LWDA was unable to investigate and prosecute every individual violation of the Labor Code. As a result, the Legislature enacted the California Private Attorneys General Act ("PAGA") to allow aggrieved employees to bring private lawsuits against their employers in state court, thereby increasing enforcement and compliance by California employers.

PAGA does two things. First, it provides a civil penalty for certain Labor Code violations for which no civil penalty had otherwise been established previously. Second, it permits any aggrieved employee to bring a civil action to collect civil penalties for Labor Code violations that were previously only available to the LWDA.

PAGA is not an exclusive remedy. It does not limit an employee's right to pursue or recover other remedies available under state or federal law. This means that you can pursue a claim under PAGA at the same time that you are pursuing claims under other Labor Code sections.

At Shanberg, Stafford & Bartz LLP, we have pursued numerous cases under the PAGA and have successfully obtained substantial civil penalties on behalf of our clients and aggrieved employees. We have also represented employers in the successful defense of alleged PAGA violations.

Employee Misclassification

Under California labor law, the presumption is that an employee is entitled to overtime unless they fall under one of the multiple exemptions adopted in California. These exemptions include the inside sales exemption, the outside sales exemption, and exemptions for executive, professional, and administrative employees.

Specific requirements for inclusion in the various exemption classifications can also vary by industry and the type of work performed by the business. The Industrial Welfare Commission, a California regulatory agency, has issued wage orders that set forth specific regulations regarding wages, hours, and working conditions within various industries. It is recommended that all employers take a proactive approach and retain experienced employment attorneys who are familiar with the California wage orders and the applicable overtime provisions set forth in the California Labor Code, including Labor Code §§ 510 and 1194. Over the past several years this area of California law has been heavily litigated and has resulted in substantial settlements and verdicts against employers.

Employers expose themselves to significant liability when they fail to carefully consider how employees are classified. As certain high profile, multi-million dollar lawsuits indicate, the consequences of misclassifying employees can be significant.

Child Labor Law Violations

Minors under the age of 18 must be paid at least the minimum wage and applicable overtime rates established by the California Industrial Welfare Commission. Employers who are subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (and most are) must pay the applicable federal minimum wage and overtime rates. Whenever state and federal wage standards differ, the higher wage must be paid.

Fast food restaurants and / or local retailers who employ high school students often encounter problems when they fail to follow restrictions on when students can work. California law maintains strict requirements regarding when minors can work for their employer. In the event the employer fails to comply with these strict time requirements, the employer can be subjected to thousands of dollars of civil penalties per violation.

The times during which minors are eligible to work, and for how long, are effected by whether school is in session and the minor's age. Minors are eligible to work during the following hours:


Ages 16 & 17
Must have completed 7th grade to work while school in session.
(EC 49112)

Ages 14 & 15
Must have completed 7th grade to work while school in session
(EC 49112)

Ages 12 & 13


4 hours per day on any school day**
[EC 49112; 49116; LC 1391]

8 hours on any non-school day or on any day preceding a non-school day.
[EC 49112; 49116; LC 1391]

48 hours per week [LC 1391]

WEE students & personal attendants*** may work more than 4 hours on a school day, but never more than 8. See text. [EC 49116; LC 1391, 1392]

3 hours per school day outside

of school hours
[EC 49112, 49116; LC 1391]

8 hours on any non-school day

18 hours per week [EC 49116; LC 1391]

WEE students may work during school hours & up to 23 hours per week. See text. [EC 49116; LC 1391]

May be employed only during school holidays and vacations (usually construed to include weekends). May never be employed on any school day, either before or after school. [EC 49111] See text.

Daily and weekly work hour maximums while school is in session are not specified in statute, but may not exceed the maximum allowed when school is not in session or the maximum stated on permit.
[EC 49111; LC 1391, 1392] See text.

Not eligible for WEE programs. [EC 49113]

8 hours per day [LC 1391, 1392]

48 hours per week [LC 1391]

8 hours per day [LC 1391, 1392]

40 hours per week [LC 1391]

8 hours per day [LC 1391, 1392]

40 hours per week [LC 1391]

5 a.m. - 10 p.m. However, until 12:30 a.m. on any evening preceding a nonschool day [LC 1391]

WEE students, with permission, until 12:30 a.m. on any day [LC 1391.1]

Messengers: 6 a.m. - 9 p.m.
7 a.m. - 7 p.m., except that from June 1 through Labor Day, until 9 p.m. [LC 1391]7 a.m. - 7 p.m., except that from June 1 through Labor Day, until 9 p.m. [LC 1391]

Source: California Department of Industrial Relations

At Shanberg, Stafford & Bartz LLP, we have successfully pursued claims on behalf of minors whose employers required them to work in violation of the above referenced times and hours. Contact us if you believe your employer, or your child's employer, is violating these Labor Code provisions.

Protect Your Rights • Contact a California Wage and Hour Lawyer

Do you have questions about whether you should be paid overtime compensation? If so, your employer may be obligated not only to pay you overtime compensation as well as waiting time penalties. Please contact Shanberg, Stafford & Bartz LLP in Newport Beach by phone or e-mail. Talk to a California attorney thoroughly experienced in employment law.