The City of East Palo Alto (the City) enacted a minimum wage ordinance (the MWO) that requires covered employers to pay any employee who works at least two hours in one calendar week within the geographic boundaries of the City at the local minimum wage rate (the East Palo Alto minimum wage).

You can find more information regarding the MWO on the City's website. You may also contact the City at (650) 853-3189 or by email at ced@cityofepa.org.

Minimum Wage Rate

  • Effective January 1, 2022, the East Palo Alto minimum wage is $15.60 per hour. This increase and future annual increases are tied to the Regional Consumer Price Index, not to exceed 5 percent.1
  • The East Palo Alto minimum wage is higher than the California state minimum wage. You must pay the (higher) East Palo Alto minimum wage to employees who are eligible for it..

You can find the current East Palo Alto minimum wage on the City’s website.

Coverage and Eligibility

The MWO broadly defines “employer” to mean “any person (including a natural person, corporation, non-profit corporation, general partnership limited partnership, limited liability partnership, limited liability company, business trust, estate, trust, association, joint venture, agency, instrumentality or any other legal or commercial entity, whether domestic or foreign) who directly or indirectly (including through the services of a temporary services or staffing agency or similar entity) employs or exercises control over the wages, hours, or working conditions of any employee.” 2

A covered employee (employee) under the MWO is any employee who:

  • Performs at least two hours of work in one calendar week in East Palo Alto, whether full- or part-time; and
  • Is entitled to payment of a California minimum wage.3

Employers must pay employees at least the East Palo Alto minimum wage for each hour worked in East Palo Alto. The East Palo Alto minimum wage applies to employees working in East Palo Alto, regardless of whether the employee is an East Palo Alto resident.

Employees cannot waive their right to receive at least the East Palo Alto minimum wage, except through a valid collective bargaining agreement. The ability to waive MWO rights via collective bargaining agreement is not available for employees in the property services industry (i.e., janitors, landscapers, groundskeepers and security guards). 4

You do not need to pay the East Palo Alto minimum wage to individuals who are not entitled to the state minimum wage.5 For more information on these types of employees, see Minimum Wage.

Posting, Notice and Recordkeeping Requirements

The MWO requires you to post an official, City-provided notice, specifying the minimum wage and describing employee rights. The MWO states that the notice must be printed in English, Spanish, and other languages as provided by any implementing regulations under the code. The notices must be posted in a conspicuous place at all locations where employees work.6

In addition, you must display the California Minimum Wage Order, which can be found on CalChamber's California and Federal Labor Law posters.

At the time of hire, you must provide employees a written notice of their rights under the MWO with your company's name, address and telephone number.7

State law also requires you to provide Wage and Employment Notice to Employees (Labor Code section 2810.5) at the time of hire to all nonexempt employees that includes this information and meets the obligation under the MWO.8 More information about the notice can be found at New Employee Orientation.

You also are required to retain payroll records pertaining to employees for a period of three years. The City must be permitted access to these records with appropriate notice and at a mutually agreeable time.9

If you do not keep adequate records documenting wages paid or you do not allow the City reasonable access to payroll records, the employee's account of how much he/she was paid will be presumed to be accurate. The employer will have to offer evidence to rebut this presumption.

Enforcement

The MWO is enforced by the City.10 The City may conduct investigations and take administrative actions to enforce the MWO.11 The City is required to make every effort to resolve complaints informally before initiating an enforcement action.12

If the City determines that an employer violated the MWO, it may issue an administrative citation and a fine of $50 per day for each day or part of a day, and for each employee or person whose rights under the MWO were violated. The City can also issue an administrative compliance order or file a civil action for injunctive relief, damages, and civil penalties.13

The City also has the authority to take other enforcement actions, such as revoking or suspending permits or licenses, until the violation is remedied.14

If the City determines that an employer repeatedly violated the MWO, it may require the employer to post a public notice of the violations on a form determined by the City.15

In addition, aggrieved employees, the City, an entity acting on behalf of a member who is an aggrieved employee, or an entity or person acting on behalf of employees or the public may file a civil lawsuit for any violation of the MWO.16

Remedies for violations of the MWO may include: reinstatement; back pay; penalties of $50 owed to each employee for each day that the violation occurred in addition to fines; interest on wages owed; reimbursement of the City's administrative costs of enforcement; and attorneys' fees and costs.17

The California Labor Commissioner also has the authority to investigate and enforce local minimum wage and overtime provisions, including such provisions in the MWO, and to issue citations and penalties against employers for violations. However, the Labor Commissioner and the City cannot both cite the employer for the same violation.

Retaliation

Employees who assert their rights under the MWO are protected against retaliation.18 For example, employees have the right to complain to their employer that they are not being paid the East Palo Alto minimum wage; file formal complaints; inform other employees of their right to the East Palo Alto minimum wage; or to assist other employees in asserting their rights.

If an employer takes adverse action against an employee within 120 days after the employee asserted rights protected by the MWO, the employer's action will be presumed to be retaliatory. The employer will have to offer evidence to rebut this presumption.19


1. East Palo Alto Mun. Code secs. 5.10.030(A)-(B)

2.East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.020(D)

3.East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.020(C)

4. East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.080

5. East Palo Alto Mun. Code secs. 5.10.020(C), 5.10.030(A)

6. East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.040(A)

7. East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.040(B)

8. Lab. Code sec. 2810.5

9. East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.050(C)

10. East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.060(A)

11. East Palo Alto Mun. Code secs. 5.10.050(F), 5.10.060(A)

12. East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.050(G)

13. East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.060(A)

14. East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.050(D)

15. East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.060(F)

16. East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.060(B)

17. East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.060(E)

18. East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.070(A)

19. East Palo Alto Mun. Code sec. 5.10.070(B)