California Labor Code 1198 prohibits companies from having sub-standard working conditions and making employees work for more than the maximum number of hours permitted by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Employers who violate Labor Code 1198 face misdemeanor charges, punishable by a minimum of $100 and/or 30 days in jail.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
1198. The maximum hours of work and the standard conditions of labor fixed by the commission shall be the maximum hours of work and the standard conditions of labor for employees. The employment of any employee for longer hours than those fixed by the order or under conditions of labor prohibited by the order is unlawful.
The DLSE is the California state agency regulating wages, hours, and working conditions. Employers are required to abide by the DLSE’s “wage orders” or else face misdemeanor penalties of at least $100 in fines and/or 30 days in jail.1
Example: Labor Code 1297 prohibits 16- and 17-year-old messengers from working prior to 6 AM and after 9 PM. If a messenger company is caught with a minor employee working during off-hours, the employer faces criminal fines of $1,000 to $10,000 in fines and/or a maximum of six months in jail.2
Note that employers face criminal charges for violating Labor Code 1198 even if their employees never complain about working too many hours or having substandard working conditions. And an employer can be liable even if they had no knowledge of the violation.3
In addition to facing criminal penalties, employers who violate Labor Code 1198 can be sued by their employees. And since substandard or dangerous working conditions often affect a company’s entire workforce, it is common for aggrieved employees to join together in a class action against the employer.4
- California Labor Code 1198 – Maximum hours of work and standard conditions of labor; Violation of order unlawful. California Labor Code 1199.
- California Labor Code 1297. California Labor Code 1303.
- Rhoades v. Progressive Cas. Ins. Co. (E.D. Cal. Feb. 2, 2011), 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13773.
- Hall v. Rite Aid Corp. (Cal. App. 4th Dist. 2014), 226 Cal. App. 4th 278, 171 Cal. Rptr. 3d 504.