First, the person who is the state employee should pose the question in case there are additional facts that you are unaware of. Second, that individual should consult with the union about any potential claim. Finally, the state is generally not exempt from wage and hour laws but more facts need o be known.
The State does adhere to most California labor laws but there are exceptions. However, most State employees belong to unions or associations which have bargained for terms which may vary from state laws. Your friend may be subject to one of these variances. He or she needs to conduct a further inquiry, first with the union representative and if he or she cannot get an acceptable answer, then through a human resource manager. It could simply be an error. Errors have been known to happen with State agencies.
They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.
Far more would need to be known, but because he is a union employee, his absolute best first step is to go to the union to get an explanation, and if an mistake has been made, or employer misconduct has occurred, he should start with the union. Good luck to you and to your friend.
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