California Minimum Wage Increases
According to the Department of Industrial Relations, the January 1 increase is the second in 18 months. On July 1, 2014, California’s minimum wage was increased from $8.00 per hour to $9.00 per hour. The second stage of the increase was the January 1, 2016 raise to $10.00 per hour. The pay increase took effect as of the first day of January, meaning all employees who earn the state minimum wage should see the change in their pay beginning January 1.
“Almost all employees in California must be paid the minimum wage as required by state law,” the department notes in its news release. Independent contractors and other workers may be exempt from minimum wage pay, but most workers are eligible for it. Employers must also post information about wages, hours and working conditions at an employee-accessible area. As a result of the minimum wage increase, eligible employees will also see an increase in the minimum overtime pay required.
Some cities in California have higher minimum wages than state law. According to KTLA (12/28/15), San Francisco, Oakland and Emeryville have minimum wages of more than $12. Los Angeles reportedly may raise minimum wages in the city to $15 per hour by 2020.
Cheerleaders in California might notice the biggest jump in pay. As of January 1, all California sports teams are required to pay their cheerleaders at least minimum wage. Although that will only affect a small number of games this season, it will affect all games for California teams going forward.
Cheerleaders are frequently treated as independent contractors instead of as employees, despite their supervisors having a great deal of control over their appearance and their cheerleading schedule. The new law (AB 202) requires that cheerleaders in California be treated as employees, meaning they are also eligible for paid sick leave and meal breaks.
In recent years, lawsuits have been filed by cheerleaders in various sports leagues alleging their pay often amounts to well below minimum wage when expenses, fees and penalties are factored in. Some of those lawsuits have been settled for millions of dollars, while others are still pending.