Q: What are the differences between California labor law and federal labor law?

A: The primary difference between California and federal labor law is that generally, California labor law is much more favorable to workers’ rights than is federal law. The 2021 minimum wage in California ($14) is higher than the federal minimum wage ($7.25). California requires workers get paid for all hours worked, whereas federal labor law allows uncompensated hours for tasks that are “ancillary” to the employee’s primary job duties. Workers who are misclassified as independent contractors in California can recover hefty penalties under the California labor code, whereas federal labor law has no penalties recoverable by workers.

California also requires employers provide reimbursement for all business expenses, whereas federal labor law allows an employer to refuse to pay business expenses as long as workers are earning minimum wage (once you factor in owed reimbursement for business expenses). California requires unpaid meal and paid rest breaks, whereas federal law does not. California guarantees workers a certain number of sick days, and any vacation days they earn can be cashed out at the end of their employment. Federal law has no similar mechanism.

Lastly, federal law strictly ignores time that employees are forced to work off-the-clock if it is in smaller than, generally, a 10-minute increment. California off-the-clock law does not adopt this federal de minimis doctrine, and will compensate smaller amounts of time if they add up to a larger amount.

Free Case Evaluation

Our employment lawyers have decades of experience litigating under California labor law. Whether your employer has misclassified you, denied you overtime pay, refused to reimburse business-related expenses, or otherwise violated your rights, we’re here to help. Contact us for a free consultation. No obligations. And we’ll keep anything you say confidential.

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Steven Tindall

An employment-law litigator with over 20 years’ experience, Steven Tindall is well-acquainted with navigating the ins-and-outs of the California labor code. His largest recovery in a single employment case is $29 million.

Linda Lam

Prior to joining us at Gibbs Law Group LLP, Linda Lam worked at a national employment law firm, where she represented workers in lawsuits to recover unpaid wages and benefits.

Steve Lopez

Steve has prosecuted a variety of complex employment cases involving misclassification of independent contractors. He is fluent in English and Spanish.

Our California Employment Practice

Our California employment attorneys – with over 50 years of collective experience litigating under California employment law – know how to fight for employees’ rights and get them the money they deserve. We’ve recovered tens of millions of dollars for California employees and represent individuals as well as class actions in virtually every area of California employment and labor laws: California overtime law, off the clock violations in CA, breach of contract disputes, California independent contractor law, sexual harassment, employee misclassification, discrimination, as well as mass layoffs in violation of the California WARN Act. Our California employment lawyers are repeatedly recognized for their expertise litigating in California. Founding partner Eric Gibbs has been selected as one of the Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California. And seventeen of the firm’s attorneys were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, a distinction received by less than 5% of attorneys in Northern California.

About Us

Gibbs Law Group is a California-based law firm committed to protecting the rights of clients nationwide who have been harmed by corporate misconduct. We represent individuals, whistleblowers, employees, and small businesses across the U.S. against the world’s largest corporations. Our award-winning lawyers have achieved landmark recoveries and over a billion dollars for our clients in high-stakes class action and individual cases involving consumer protection, data breach, digital privacy, and federal and California employment lawsuits. Our attorneys have received numerous honors for their work, including “Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California,” “Top Class Action Attorneys Under 40,” “Consumer Protection MVP,” “Best Lawyers in America,” and “Top Cybersecurity/ Privacy Attorneys Under 40.”

Get the money you are owed

If you’ve been misclassified, denied overtime pay, or not reimbursed for business related expenses you may have a claim. Speak to our employment attorneys for a free consultation.

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