What Employees Can Be Paid Less Than Minimum Wage?

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employer looking at minimum wage lawsuit

Ensuring your employees are paid the right amount for their work is essential. After all, they do great work for your business and deserve to be compensated fairly. It can hurt your business when an employee claims you’re violating their rights by failing to pay them the minimum wage. However, it’s vital to understand that some classifications of employees do not need to be paid minimum wage according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Keep reading to learn how a Los Angeles wage & hour law compliance attorney can help protect your business’s reputation.

What Is the Minimum Wage in California?

The federal minimum wage across the country is $7.25 per hour, but many states have their own standards. In California, the minimum has increased annually for the past seven years, reaching $15.50 per hour as of January 1, 2023.

This rate applies to all businesses, regardless of the number of employees they have. In previous years, companies with fewer than 26 employees had a slightly lower rate.

The minimum wage is the same for all employees regardless of age. Similarly, an employee may agree to be paid less than the minimum, as their employer is required to meet the state standard.

What Employees are Exempt?

Though it may seem as though all employees receive minimum wage, this is not the case. There are a few exemptions in which certain employees can be paid less than the going rate.

For example, full-time students are not required to receive the full minimum wage rate. Employers can pay them no less than 85% of the state’s minimum. Also, employees with disabilities may receive a sub-minimum pay if the employer applies for a certificate. This provides incentives for employers to hire those with disabilities.

In other states, tipped employees may receive as little as $2.13 per hour so long as their tips equal the minimum wage of their state. However, California does not pay tipped employees less than the state minimum.

What Should I Do if an Employee Files a Lawsuit?

If an employee is exempt from receiving minimum wage under the FLSA and they file a lawsuit against you for paying them sub-wages, knowing how to respond is vital to protecting your business. The last thing you need is a lawsuit that hurts the reputation of your company.

Ensuring you keep all employee agreements and contacts that show the employee understands they are exempt from receiving minimum wage is vital. This is evidence that can help support you in a legal battle.

When an employee files a legal battle against you, ensure that you take the necessary steps to protect your business. Reaching out to a seasoned attorney is vital to navigating this process. At the Lee Law Offices, we can help guide you through any wage disputes. Reach out today to discuss the details of your case.