California overtime law requires employers to give overtime pay to non-exempt employees if they work more than eight hours in a single workday, more than 40 hours in a single workweek or more than six days in a single workweek. Employers are required to pay time and a half for work that is done in excess of these hours. In addition, double-time overtime pay is required to be paid for hours worked in excess of 12 hours in a single workday or in excess of eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of work.
However, our California employment lawyers have frequently observed that employers shortchange employees of overtime pay by resorting to a number of strategies that are unfair, unethical and above all, illegal. If your employer is refusing to pay you overtime for hours worked, it is important that you contact an experienced Los Angeles overtime pay attorney who can help you assess your legal rights and options.
Who is Eligible for Overtime Pay?
California overtime laws apply to all non-exempt or hourly employees. If you submit a time card at work or punch in and punch out at work, you are most likely eligible for overtime pay. California overtime laws don't apply to the following categories of employees:
Independent contractors: Independent contractors do not enjoy the same protections under California labor laws as hourly employees. This includes the right to receive overtime pay. An independent contractor is a worker who performs a service, typically, under an agreement that states he or she will produce a specified result for a specific amount of money, which is usually pre-determined and agreed upon. An independent contractor typically maintains control over how he or she gets the job done. For example, contractors keep their own hours. Independent contractors are increasingly common in today's gig economy.
Exempt employees: These are employees to whom California overtime laws as well as other wage and hours such as laws that require rest and meal breaks do not apply. Exempt employees are typically those engaged in administrative, executive or professional duties. They are usually supervisors. They also earn a salary that is equivalent to at least twice the minimum wage for full-time work.
Alternative schedule: California overtime laws also do not apply to employees whose employer has put in place an alternative workweek schedule. This is essentially an agreement between employees and their employer that employees may work up to 10 hours a day without overtime pay. In order to be a valid exception to California overtime laws, this type of a schedule must be approved by at least two-thirds of affected employees in a work unit by secret ballot. Employees are still owed overtime if they work more than the number of hours specified in the alternative workweek schedule.
It is important to remember that under California law, unauthorized overtime is still considered as overtime work. This is the case even if your employer does not make a specific request that you work additional hours. In such cases, your employer still owes you overtime pay under California law. The law also states that an employer can discipline an employee if he or she violates the employer's policy of working overtime without getting the employer's prior approval or authorization. But, California's wage and hour laws require that the employee still be compensated for any hours he or she has worked overtime.
California law (Labor Code Section 1194) also requires that an employee be paid all overtime compensation notwithstanding any agreement to work for a lesser wage. Consequently, such an agreement or "waiver" will not prevent an employee from recovering the difference between the wages paid to the employee and the overtime compensation to which he or she is entitled.
What Steps Can You Take?
If your employer is refusing to pay the overtime wages that are owed to you, here are some of the steps you can take:
Write it all down. Be sure to keep track of all the hours you worked. Write down the jobs you did during that time, even if it was during lunchtime or when you were off work and at home. If you have a diary or calendar, write it in there. Do not keep any of these records or documents at work. This is because you could lose access to them if you get fired. Keep them at home. The Department of Labor also has a smartphone app you can use to keep track. However, if your smartphone belongs to your employer, it is best to use your personal cell phone or other means to keep track.
Report it. If you believe you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, report it to the Internal Revenue Service. You can fill out a form called the SS-8 and have them determine whether or not you have been misclassified. You can also report any violations to the Department of Labor, which is available via phone and email.
Don't talk about it on social media. If you have any type of grievances against your employer, don't express them online or on social media. What you say on social media can and often will be used against you. Even anything that is unconnected to your work-related issues could be used against you. So, in such cases, it may be best to deactivate your social media accounts until your workplace issues are resolved.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If your employer is avoiding paying you overtime for additional hours worked, it may be in your best interest to contact an experienced California overtime lawyer who will remain on your side, fight for your rights and help you secure fair compensation for your lost wages. You may also be entitled to attorney's fees and costs.