Is it illegal to go to a job a whole day and not get paid for most of the hours?

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Is it illegal to go to a job a whole day and not get paid for most of the hours?

I work at a car wash and they do not give us a schedule of times we go in, only days, they tell us when we can go home, and we only get paid when there are cars there, and when there are cars not all of us get to work, for example, say 1 car shows up the whole day, we can sit there for 8-12 hours and only 2 out of all the employees get to work and get paid minimum wage for that one car, is it illegal to make us stay there the whole day and not pay us for having to be there for nothing and putting us on “break” all the time? My first week there for 16 hours and only got paid for 9 1/2 hours.

Asked on January 24, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is illegal--an employee must be paid for all hours worked, and "work" includes hours spent sitting or waiting at the employer's place of business, waiting for customers. (For example: supermarket cashiers are paid whether  or not anyone is checking out.) Last year, in fact, there was a case where a car wash doing something similar faced significant liability for violating labor law. From what you write, you would seem to have a cause of action; you could contact the state labor department to file a complaint, or contact an employment attorney about suing. You are owed pay for all the hours you did work, plus certain additional compensation.


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