Many employees aren’t aware that the companies they work for are violating overtime labor laws every day. They do this in many ways. With a few exceptions (such as outside salespeople), California law requires a company to pay overtime for employees who work more than eight hours per day, more than 40 hours per week, or who work seven days in a row.
Labor law regarding overtime pay can be murky at times, depending on the industry or job you are in. Most overtime violations fall into one of three categories:
- Misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime pay
- Not counting the total number of hours worked, or
- Miscalculating overtime pay
Misclassification of Employees to Avoid Overtime Pay
The most common violation involves the employers’ failure to pay overtime by misclassifying employees as exempt employees or independent contractors. Although most employees are entitled to overtime if they work over eight hours per day, or 40 hours per week, or who work seven days in a row, the law does not apply to certain management or professional-level employees, nor to independent contractors.
For example, a salaried employee who is an IT help-desk specialists, administrative worker or assistant manager may be labeled as exempt even though their job responsibilities make them eligible for overtime pay. An assistant manager can only be classified as exempt from overtime pay requirements if the manager’s main job is management, or if she/he regularly supervises two or more full-time employees and is also involved in the hiring or firing of staff. If these criteria don’t apply, then the assistant manager is entitled to overtime pay.
Underreporting Hours Worked
Another common overtime violation involves not paying hourly workers for every hour they work. Some employers dock pay because an employee had poor work quality or low productivity—or, the employer alleges that he has. Legally, the employer must pay every employee for every hour worked, regardless of the employer’s satisfaction with the employee’s performance.
Another way to reduce overtime pay is to not compensate employees who do additional work offsite. If an hourly employee punches a time clock, but works for the company before clocking in or after clocking out, the employer must compensate the worker for the extra time.
Many employers miscalculate overtime or don’t pay the time-and-a-half overtime pay that is required for salaried and hourly employees. This especially happens with field service workers. If you feel you are due overtime pay, the first step is to discuss the matter with your employer. If the matter isn’t resolved to your satisfaction, you can file a wage claim with the California labor department. If your employer wrongfully withheld overtime pay, the company may be required to pay more than the unpaid balance.
If you believe that you have been denied overtime pay you earned or are considering filing a claim, your next step should be to speak with an experienced employment attorney. At Yarian and Associates, we have successfully helped people get the back pay they are entitled to. Contact us today to set up a free consultation and learn more about your workplace rights.