California Minimum Wage Laws 2021

California minimum wage law changes from year to year and can vary depending on the city in which your job is located. Some places like Los Angeles require a higher minimum wage compared to the rest of California. Here’s all you need to know about California minimum wage laws in 2021.

As of January 1st, 2021, the minimum wage in California is

  • $13.00 for employers with 25 or fewer employees, or
  • $14.00 for employers with 26 or more employees

Although this is the minimum wage in California, counties within California do have the ability to raise the minimum wage even higher than the state-mandated minimum wage. For example, as of July 1st, 2021, the following will be the minimum wage in Los Angeles County:

  • $14.25 for employers with 25 or fewer employees, or
  • $15.00 for employers with 26 or more employees

This means that if you work in Los Angeles County, your employer must adhere to the Los Angeles County minimum wage rather than the lesser California minimum wage. Just as California’s minimum wage overrides the federal minimum wage of $7.25, Los Angeles County’s minimum wage overrides California’s. Different counties can have different minimum wages.

For a comprehensive list of the different minimum wage laws throughout California by city, click here!

If you work in a county whose minimum wage is above your state’s minimum wage, you must be paid the higher county minimum wage. It is illegal for any corporation in the state of California to pay less than the minimum wage. If you feel your minimum wage rights have been violated, it is imperative to recover your owed wages in a wage and hour lawsuit.

What is the minimum wage in California?

As of January 1st, 2021, the minimum wage in California is

  • $13.00 for employers with 25 or fewer employees, or
  • $14.00 for employers with 26 or more employees

California’s minimum wage will increase every year until 2023. Local counties in California implement their own laws in regard to minimum wage. For example, Los Angeles County minimum wage does not increase on January 1st, but rather on July 1st.

  • 2017: $10.50/$10.00
  • 2018: $11.00/$10.50
  • 2019: $12.00/$11.00
  • 2020: $13.00/$12.00
  • 2021: $14.00/$13.00
  • 2022: $15.00/$14.00
  • 2023: $15.00 for all employers

Are There Different Minimum Wages In California?

Although this is the minimum wage in California, counties within California do have the ability to raise the minimum wage even higher than the state-mandated minimum wage. For example, as of July 1st, 2021, the following will be the minimum wage in Los Angeles County:

  • $13.25 for employers with 25 or fewer employees, or
  • $14.25 for employers with 26 or more employees

This means that if you work in Los Angeles County, your employer must adhere to the Los Angeles County minimum wage rather than the lesser California minimum wage. Just as California’s minimum wage overrides the federal minimum wage of $7.25, Los Angeles County’s minimum wage overrides California’s minimum wage.

If you work in a county whose minimum wage is above your state’s minimum wage, you must be paid the higher county minimum wage.

To find your applicable minimum wage, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal.

Can an employee agree to receive less than the minimum wage?

It is illegal for employees to agree to receive less than the applicable minimum wage. Minimum wages may not be waived by California employers or employees. No matter what an employer says or offers in return, they may not pay any worker less than the local minimum wage. If an employee is being paid less than the minimum wage, then they may contact an attorney to file a wage claim against their employer.

Are there exceptions to minimum wage laws in California?

There are exceptions to California’s minimum wage laws.

An employee may receive less than their applicable minimum wage if the employee is a/an:

  • Independent contractors
  • Student employee or camp counselor (must be paid 85% of applicable minimum wage)
  • Participant in a national service program
  • Mentally or physically disabled employees
  • Outside salesperson (an individual who spends half or more of their working hours away from the employer’s place of business)

In no other scenario is your employer allowed to pay you less than the applicable minimum wage. The employees in these scenarios are considered ‘independent contractors’, while most other employees in California are considered at-will employees.

To see if you are exempt from California’s minimum wage, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal.

What do I do if my employer is paying me less than the minimum wage?

If your employer is paying you less than the applicable minimum wage, you may sue your employer to receive just compensation for your wage loss. If you feel your minimum wage rights have been violated, it is imperative to recover your owed wages in a wage and hour lawsuit.

These are the minimum damages you would receive in a California minimum wage lawsuit:

  • The wages owed to you in order to have received just compensation in correspondence to the applicable minimum wage
  • Interest on that amount
  • Attorney’s fees
  • A civil penalty consisting of a $100 penalty for the initial pay period of violation and $250 for each subsequent pay period of violation

All in all, your settlement may be over twice the amount your employer underpaid you. Your employer may pay less in compensation if the employer can demonstrate that the underpayment was an honest mistake.

Can I be fired for filing a lawsuit against my employer for underpaying me?

No, California law prevents employers from engaging in workplace retaliation for complaining or filing a lawsuit against your employer. Employers who retaliate against their employees will have another suit on their hands, and more compensation in our of their pocket. California law protects employees from being retaliated against for whistleblowing, or for filing a report on their employer. If you believe your employer has retaliated against you for filing a complaint or suit, contact Pride Legal today.

Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding California’s minimum wage or would like to discuss your case confidentially, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal. Do not hesitate to take action in the face of employer misconduct.

To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.