Minimum Wage Laws in California

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One of the first things you should know before you start any job in California is what the current California minimum wage laws are.

Understanding the state’s rules for paying employees can save you from predatory employers and help you negotiate for your worth in work settings.

So, what is the minimum wage in California?

It depends on where you live, and we can break it down for you below. 

And if your employer has been violating California minimum wage laws, Starpoint Employment Law can help you recover the wages you are owed.

We have not lost a case, and we are passionate about fighting for employee rights. 

What Is the Minimum Wage in California in 2023?

The minimum wage in this state has changed over the years. Generally, the minimum wage in California in 2023 is $15.50 per hour.

This minimum wage rate is applicable no matter how many or how few employees your employer has.

And the minimum wage rate could change in the coming years, so you should speak to an attorney whenever you suspect you are being paid less than you should.

Additionally, your employer must pay you 1.5 to 2 times your regular rate of pay if you work more than eight hours in a day, 40 hours in a week, or more than six days in a week. 

The Minimum Wage You Are Entitled to Could Change Depending on Your Location

While many California employers must pay their employees at least $15.50 per hour, do not let your employer rest in that minimum requirement without researching whether the city or county you work in demands a higher minimum rate from employers. 

Currently, there are 40 local governments in California that require employers to pay their employees more than $15.50 per hour.

For example, employers in Sunnyvale, California, are obligated to pay their non-exempt employees the highest minimum wage rate in the state at $17.95 per hour.

Some of the local increased rates depend on the size of an employer’s workforce, so check with one of our experienced employment attorneys regarding what rate applies to you. 

The Job You Have Could Foreclose Your Right to Minimum Wage

Unfortunately, not every employee in California is entitled to minimum wage. There are some employees who are considered exempt from these wage laws.

The following are exempt employees when it comes to California’s minimum wage laws: 

  • An outside salesperson,
  • A parent of the employer,
  • An apprentice (depending on the facts), 
  • A child of the employer,
  • A learner (depending on the facts), and 
  • A spouse of the employer. 

Once again, you should check with a knowledgeable employment attorney before you accept that you are not eligible for minimum wage. 

Credits Toward Minimum Wage

Sometimes an employer can use other benefits it provides an employee as credit toward its minimum wage obligation. Benefits that can count as credits include meals and lodging.

However, an employer cannot take credit for benefits unless its employee voluntarily agrees to the arrangement.

There are also limits to the amount of credit an employer can take for meals and lodging, even if the employee agrees to a greater amount. And if you are an employee who receives tips, your employer cannot use our tips as credits toward its minimum wage obligations.

What to Do When Your Boss Violates California Wage Laws

Being unlawfully underpaid for your work is disheartening and infuriating. And an employer’s failure to comply with the state’s minimum wage laws constitutes wage theft.

Fortunately, you have options for recovering the money you worked for and holding your employer accountable. 

To address wage theft, you can file a wage claim with the Department of Industrial Relations’ Labor Commissioner’s Office. You also have the option to file a lawsuit against an employer that fails to pay you. 

To make sure you maintain the right to recover damages (and possibly penalties) in a wage theft complaint, you must file your complaint within three years. Speak to an attorney immediately after you suspect a violation so your counsel can timely file your legal action and begin developing your case against your employer. 


Fight for your unpaid wages with the help of one of our attorneys. Our team of employment attorneys will be by your side to help recover your unpaid wages. Get justice today.

Retaliation Against an Employee Who Files a Claim Is Illegal

If your employer refuses to pay you minimum wage, it might also be inclined to punish or threaten you for taking legal action. But remember that retaliation against an employee that complains about wage theft is illegal. 

Unlawful retaliation comes in many forms. If your employer does any of the following to you because you asserted your right to minimum wage, you can take legal action: 

  • Terminates you,
  • Harasses you,
  • Cuts or eliminates your benefits,
  • Demotes you, 
  • Subjects you to an undesirable transfer or assignment, 
  • Excludes you from a work opportunity, 
  • Reduces your pay, 
  • Refuses to promote you, 
  • Subjects you to unwarranted discipline, or
  • Threatens negative action. 

Illegal retaliation is not always obvious, so you should consult with an attorney about your experiences and legal options. 

We Can Make Sure Your Job Is Worth Your Time and Effort

At Starpoint Employment Law, we are highly experienced employment attorneys who have impeccable records. And we don’t waste the time of those who are seeking counsel.

We are highly selective about the cases we take, representing only the claims we believe are likely to win.

Through a case review with us, you can get a solid idea of whether your claim is worth the stress and time often associated with legal complaints. 

If you need an attorney who is passionate, experienced, aggressive, and successful, reach out to us today. We have recovered large settlements for mistreated employees all over Southern California.

And we do not leave our clients in the dark about the developments in their cases.

To schedule a consultation, you can call us at 310-997-4273 or contact us online. We want to hear your story.

Author Photo

Aidin Ghavimi

Aidin is a partner at Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law, and focuses on personal injury and employment law cases in and around Southern California. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the Loyola School of Law and his Bachelor’s from USC. Aidin’s primary goal is to bring justice to his clients and to ensure they are able to move on with their lives after a serious injury.

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