California Labor Code 1197 LC makes it unlawful for California employers to pay their workers less than minimum wage. In 2022, the minimum wage is $14.00 for employers with 25 or fewer employees or $15.00 for employers with 26 or more employees. And if the city or county requires a higher minimum wage, employers must meet that minimum.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
LC 1197. The minimum wage for employees fixed by the commission or by any applicable state or local law, is the minimum wage to be paid to employees, and the payment of a lower wage than the minimum so fixed is unlawful. This section does not change the applicability of local minimum wage laws to any entity.
California Labor Code 1197 LC requires California businesses to pay their employees no less than the local minimum wage.1 As of 2022, the California state minimum wage is:
- $15.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees (this will be raised to $15.50 per hour in 2023); and
- $14.00 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees (this will be raised to $15.50 per hour in 2023).2
But various localities such as San Francisco and Berkeley have even higher minimum wages that employers are required to abide by under LC 1197.3 (California’s minimum wage is about twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.)4
Note that workers may not agree to get paid less than minimum wage (even if they earn tips). But there are exceptions:
- Outside salespeople, who are employees who spend more than 50% of their work time away from the employer’s place of business, selling items or obtaining orders;5
- Student employees, camp counselors and program counselors of organized camps;6
- National service program participants;7
- Mentally or physically handicapped people working for authorized nonprofits or rehabilitation facilities;8
- Independent contractors.9
Employees who go unpaid or underpaid may bring a labor board complaint or wage and hour lawsuit against the employer. If successful, employees may be able to recover their unpaid wages, interest, and possibly attorneys’ fees and liquidated damages.
- California Labor Code 1197 LC – Requirement that minimum wage be paid. See also: Troester v. Starbucks Corp. (Cal., 2018), 235 Cal. Rptr. 3d 820, 421 P.3d 1114, 5 Cal. 5th 829; Guerrero v. Superior Court (Cal. App. 1st Dist., 2013), 213 Cal. App. 4th 912, 153 Cal. Rptr. 3d 315.
- Labor Code 1182.12. John Myers, California’s minimum wage will rise to $15.50, triggered by soaring inflation, Los Angeles Times (May 12, 2022).
- LC 1197.
- Minimum Wage, U.S. Department of Labor.
- LC 1171.
- LC 1182.4.
- LC 1171.
- LC 1191.
- LC 3353.