It is illegal for an employer and an employee to agree to a wage lower than the minimum wage. Failure to pay the minimum wage subjects you to fines and imprisonment, and restitution of the wages to the employee. The Labor Commissioner can assess a civil penalty of $100 for each underpaid employee for each pay period during which you did not pay the minimum wage. For each subsequent intentional failure to pay the minimum wage, the penalty is $250
Under a new law effective January 1, 2020, the Labor Commissioner can also issue citations and recover amounts owed by an employer who has paid less than the wages set by contract, even if it was more than minimum wage.
Individuals can be held personally liable for a company’s failure to comply with certain wage and hour laws. The Labor Commissioner’s authority to assess civil penalties for Labor Code and Wage Order violations extends not only to the employer, but to any “other person acting on behalf of the employer.