Revisions to California’s Labor Code raise employee rights standards
Many strikes on large corporations begin with low wages. That’s because there is no protection to wages except the federal and state minimum wage. Minimum wage standards are set by states according to the economics found within each state. This figure greatly depends on the minimum wage each state sees fit, but does not necessarily depend on the cost-of-living.
Employers that violate the state minimum wage owe employees unpaid wages. For the most part, the federal government and individual states do not actually raise the minimum wage in relation to the true “cost-of-living” index, which takes into consideration local economic conditions according to city, such as housing costs, average grocery and fuel prices (goods), utility and insurance costs (services), and total household incomes.
Minimum wage is not a living wage.
Although the minimum wage set by the federal government was $7.25 as of July 24, 2009 then $7.79 as of January 26, 2013 under FLSA, some states require even higher minimums as they see fit. California is one of them.
When the minimum wage was raised back in 2009, California had already exceeded this figure with $8.00 per hour as the standard. Yet some say the minimum wage is not enough when taking into consideration the cost-of-living index. Now California’s minimum wage is $9 per hour with a $10 per hour wage set to be enacted into law on January 1, 2016.
Had a proposed bill to raise the California minimum wage to $13 been passed, this change would have jumped from $10 to $11 per hour on January 1, 2016, and $13 per hour on July 1, 2017. Instead, the bill was held by the state legislature in The Assembly’s Appropriations Committee.
When taking the “cost-of-living” index of each state into consideration, minimum wage is not a living wage in most states. A report on minimum wage requirements by Job Gap: An Alliance for a Just Society found that there are absolutely no states in the entire U.S. where the “living wage” or cost for the employee to independently survive was less than $14 an hour at 40 hours per week. This is alarming considering the national standard is almost half that number. In fact, there are more than 35 states including Washington, D.C. in which a $15 per hour minimum wage doesn’t quite make a living wage for a single employed adult. The $15 minimum wage figure is one that employers like the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington plan to match in 2016, which will raise wage standards for others to follow suit.
California will erase “alien” from the Labor Code.
Despite the setbacks for employees, states’, and even federal economics brought about by the halting of new minimum wage standards, foreign workers no longer need to feel excluded by the state Labor Code’s use of the term “alien” in California. After a law was signed by California state governor Jerry Brown, the word “alien” will be deleted from the labor code.
This bill to amend the wording in the California Labor Code was proposed by Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) in Senate Bill 432. Senator Mendoza stated, “California is among the top destination states for immigrants in the United States…. Given the abundant evidence of their main contributions, it is imperative that any derogatory references to foreign-born individuals be repealed from state law.”
Do you believe you or someone you know is owed unpaid wages?
Minimum wage and unpaid wage disputes are some of the most common violations of employee rights. The employment law attorneys at Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. can help you with your case. Call for a consultation today.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.