For years, it has been the industry custom for skilled trades like mechanics and technicians to supply their own tools at their place of employment. Because the machinery on which they work is constantly evolving, and thereby requiring new kinds of tools, mechanics must continuously purchase tools their entire careers. This expense can, and in many cases does, easily reach tens of thousands of dollars over the span of a career. This is why California wage law requires mechanics to be paid at least two times minimum wage when they supply their own tools. This ensures that if an employer is going to pass the high cost of purchasing tools onto its employees, those employees can earn enough money to afford those expensive tools.
This California wage law is a simple matter of fairness. Indeed, without this double minimum wage rule, employers would be allowed to create very one-sided business partnerships with employees—a partnership in which low wage employees carry the burden of paying the business’s operating costs and provide the labor but don’t share in the business’s profits.
The double minimum wage requirement is codified in California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders 1-2001 § 9 (B), 2-2001 § 9 (B), 3-2001 § 9 (B), 4-2001 § 9 (B), 5-2001 § 9 (B), 6-2001 § 9 (B), 7-2001 § 9 (B), 8-2001 § 9 (B), 9-2001 § 9 (B), 10-2001 § 9 (B), 11-2001 § 9 (B), 12-2001 § 9 (B), 13-2001 § 9 (B), 14-2001 § 9 (B), 15-2001 § 9 (B), 16-2001 § 8 (B) and Title 8 § 11040 9 (B) of the California Code of Regulations. Although mechanics and technicians are most often the victims of double minimum wage violations, this California labor law applies to employees other than mechanics and technicians, including those in personal services, housekeeping, laundry, mercantile, transportation, amusement & recreation, broadcasting, motion picture, agricultural, household, construction and mining industries.
California does carve out some narrow exceptions to this California wage law for beauty salon employees, certain beauty schools and barbershops. These types of businesses may require employees to furnish their own manicure implements, curling irons, rollers, clips, haircutting scissors, combs, blowers, razors, and eyebrow tweezers without any obligation to pay them double minimum wage.
Despite this California wage law and the legal obligation to pay double minimum wage, many employers—particularly in the automotive industry—will pay their newer, entry-level employees below the required double minimum wage. In most cases, the employers claim that the law doesn’t apply to them by (1) falsely claiming that their employees are not required to bring their own tools, but rather, they supply their own tools out of personal preference or (2) that the employer supplies the necessary tools to do the job.
Fortunately for our clients, we have more knowledge and experience litigating double minimum wage cases than nearly any firm in California. Indeed, this particular area of California wage law is so specialized that most defense lawyers who are hired to represent the employer have never previously litigated this type of case. This gives us a distinct advantage in every double minimum wage case we litigate. We have been successfully discrediting the various bogus defenses raised by employers in double minimum wage suits for several years and have obtained multiple six-figure recoveries for our clients in double minimum wage cases.
Contact a California Employment Attorney
Thanks to this California labor law, whether you are a mechanic or other employee, if you supply your own tools or equipment and are not being paid double minimum wage, our employment law attorneys at Pimentel Law can help. Call Pimentel Law today at (877) 265-8084 or reach us online to set up your free consultation. We’ll evaluate your California wage law case for free, help you understand your legal options, and represent you in your double minimum wage case with no upfront costs.