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Federal Minimum Wage = $7.25
California Minimum Wage = $8
San Francisco Minimum Wage = $9.92 $10.24

When it comes to paying minimum wage, employers are required to comply with Federal, California and local minimum wage laws. For example, under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must pay to non-exempt employees at least $7.25 per hour.  However, in California, the minimum wage rate is higher and amounts to $8 for 2011. If you work within the boundaries of the city of San Francisco, your minimum wage rate is highest in the nation – $10.24 (as of January 1, 2012, according to the San Francisco Administrative Code 12W). Despite the fact, that federal, state and local minimum wage rates are not always the same, your employer must pay you the highest applicable minimum wage rate.

However, under the California Labor law, not everyone is entitled to minimum wage. Certain types of employees are exempt. For example, outside salespersons who spend over half of their work time making sales away from the employer’s office are likely to be exempt. Similarly, an employer who hires his close relatives (i.e. parents, spouse or children) does not have to pay minimum wage. Non-profit employers employing mentally or physically disabled workers can be exempt from the minimum wage law under certain circumstances. Nevertheless, it is crucial to keep in mind, that these exemptions are narrow and often subject to abuse by unscrupulous employers. Outside salesperson is the most abused  exemption.

Despite the fact that California imposes severe penalties against employers who violate the minimum wage law, it is nevertheless a highly litigated area of law. Victims of the minimum wage abuse loose thousands of dollars in wages and overtime. Such violations are not always obvious and oftentimes require a professional evaluation. For example, many employers require their workers to work “off the clock,” pay wages in cash “under the table,” misclassify workers as exempt, etc.  For more information on the typical California minimum wage violations, read this section. You may also contact our San Francisco law office to schedule an appointment with our labor law attorney.

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