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Wage and hour claims expected to remain prominent in California in 2014

Worker-friendly laws in California and a handful of other states have spurred lawsuits regarding working "off the clock" without proper compensation.
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    February 06, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Wage and hour claims expected to remain prominent in California in 2014

Article provided by Patton Wolan Carlise LLP
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Employment law is an ever-changing landscape that is influenced by landmark court decisions, changes in the economy and new technology and business opportunities. This year employment law in California should prove no less fluid as many professionals in the field expect certain trends to continue and other areas of employment law to rise to prominence. Employees' use of social media, especially with regard to discharge, will likely be a highly litigated issue. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is also expected to continue its recent aggressive trend in pursuing discrimination claims -- in 2013, the EEOC brought in approximately $372 million on discrimination claims, more money than it has ever brought in, despite cutbacks to its budget due to the sequester.

Perhaps the most anticipated type of lawsuit will be wage-and-hour claims, which were among the most litigated issues in 2013. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that worker-friendly laws in California and a handful of other states have spurred lawsuits regarding working "off the clock" without proper compensation. According to the "Workplace Class Action Litigation Report," a yearly prediction of employment law issues, nonexempt employees will be more likely to file suit because of a competitive economy and an increased exposure to a "continuous workday" made easier by mobile devices. New theories also question employer rounding practices.

California wage and hour laws in 2014

California's minimum wage rose to $9.00 per hour effective from the beginning of this year. In 2016 it will raise again to $10.00 per hour. Several California cities have set their own minimum wage even higher. Some businesses have indicated this increase may lead to lower hours for some employees. This, in turn, could lead to situations ripe for wage-and-hour claims.

In a difficult economy, many workers will do as much as possible to excel at work. When fighting for hours, some workers may be tempted to work more than their allotted time in order to rise above their colleagues. If not watched carefully this can result in wage-and-hour claims for the employer. Many wage-and-hour claims do not allege that an employer intentionally violated minimum wage laws; rather, these claims allege that the employer should have known that workers were violating these wage-and-hour claims despite company policy against such actions.

Preplanning helps prevent suits

Fortunately many wage-and-hour claims, especially class action suits, can be avoided with proper planning. A clear company policy regarding reporting hours worked and companywide training on such issues can go a long way towards preventing these lawsuits before they begin.

Employers looking for help on employee manuals, preventing discrimination in the workplace and otherwise ensuring all employment laws are obeyed should consult with an experienced employment law attorney to discuss their situation.

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