Wage and Hour
California Overtime Pay
Overtime pay laws protect employees from being forced to work extensive hours without additional compensation. But the state and federal regulations of overtime are complex and often confusing, and employers (especially multi-state corporations) often misclassify employees, intentionally or accidentally, to avoid paying overtime wages. Common issues in overtime cases include the following:
- Exemptions: Certain types of employees are legally “exempt” from overtime laws and therefore do not receive overtime pay. However, employers often misclassify employees as exempt, when in fact, they do not meet the legal test for any exemption. If you have been denied overtime because your employer said you were exempt, please contact our wage and hour attorneys as soon as possible; we can help determine if you are entitled to receive compensation for lost overtime wages.
- Independent Contractors: Employers often try to avoid paying overtime by classifying workers as “independent contractors” rather than employees. But many workers who are labeled as “independent contractors” by their employers are actually entitled to receive overtime compensation. The legal distinction between employees and independent contractors depends on the extent to which the employer dictates the terms and conditions of the job. Simply calling an employee an independent contractor does not excuse the employer from paying overtime. If you have been denied overtime pay because your employer said you were an independent contractor, please call us for an evaluation of your case.
- Specific Industries and Occupations: California also has separate overtime pay rules for employees in specific industries. For example, this occurs in the computer software industry and also with respect to employees who work on commission, such as stockbrokers. Computer programmers must earn more than a specified amount per hour in order to be exempt from overtime pay. Commissioned employees and salaried employees may qualify for overtime pay if they meet certain conditions.
- Other Wage and Hour Violations: In addition to overtime payment issues, California employers are often guilty of other wage and hour violations such as neglecting to reimburse employees for business expenses, pay deductions for everything from bonuses and uniforms to uncollected fees or shortages, and failing to pay for non-commute travel time or unrecorded hours employers may be required by law to pay their employees.
- Are you a “loan officer” working solely on a non-guaranteed commission basis primarily at bank branches, call centers or home office not being paid overtime hours? Are you being denied the opportunity to submit expense reports for your expenses incurred in automotive, cellphone and marketing?
- Are you a “loan consultant” in outside sales spending less than 50 percent of your time in actual outside sales and related activity (e.g., using your home or other site to make telephone sales) and being denied overtime pay and expense reimbursements?
- Are you an inside sales person being denied overtime pay and not earning more than half your weekly income from bona fide commissions?
- Are you a “manager” or “assistant manager” in a restaurant, clothing store or other retail establishment who spends less than half your time managing and who has been misclassified as “exempt” when in fact you are entitled to overtime pay?
- Are you misclassified as an “independent contractor” who is in fact working as an employee and being denied overtime pay for hours worked?
If you have questions about overtime pay, contact an employment attorney at The Rubin Law Corporation of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills today by calling us at 310-385-0777 to schedule a consultation.
Collecting Unpaid Wages, Overtime and Penalties
Employees in California have several choices when considering how to collect unpaid wages, overtime compensation and related penalties:
One of the most effective approaches is to negotiate directly with the employer. Informal negotiation is often the fastest way to settle wage and hour claims. Negotiating your claim can enable you to recover fair compensation while avoiding the risks, delays and costs involved in administrative or court proceedings. The attorneys at The Rubin Law Corporation can represent you in the negotiation process to help you get the money you deserve.
Filing a Claim With the Labor Commission
Wage and hour disputes can also be handled by filing a claim with the California Department of Industrial Relations — Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, also known as the “Labor Commission.”
The Labor Commission claim process is less formal than a lawsuit, and may have advantages over going to court; for example, the resolution of some types of cases will be faster than in court, and the commissioners are generally more familiar with the legal issues involved in wage claims than the typical judge in court.
But the Labor Commission has limited authority, cannot handle claims under federal law, and may not be appropriate if you have other legal claims against your employer in addition to wage and hour claims. The attorneys at The Rubin Law Corporation can help you decide whether a Labor Commission claim is appropriate in your case.
Filing a Claim in Court
Wage and hour claims can also be filed in regular courts. In some cases, a lawsuit filed in court may be preferable to a Labor Commission claim. One situation where going to court is preferable is when the claim includes more than three years of unpaid overtime; the Labor Commission will only handle claims going back a maximum of three years, but other legal provisions allow a suit in court to recover damages going back up to four years.
Another case where court may be preferable to the Labor Commission is when the claim includes overtime wages; the Labor Commission will not enforce the federal law authorizing liquidated damages for overtime claims, but courts can assess these damages.
Also, if you have other legal claims against your employer, it may be most efficient to include your wage and hour claims in the same lawsuit. The lawyers at The Rubin Law Corporation can help you assess your individual situation to decide how to proceed.
Most employees are entitled to overtime compensation of one and one-half times their regular hourly pay rate for work in excess of eight hours per day or 40 hours per week. (Additional compensation may be required for employees who work more than 12 hours in a day, or work on seven consecutive days.)
Under California law, workers who have been wrongly denied overtime pay are entitled to recover the unpaid overtime wages due, plus attorneys’ fees, costs and interest. Federal law also permits workers to recover additional “liquidated damages” equal to the amount of overtime wages owed. If you have not been paid for working overtime, contact the attorneys at The Rubin Law Corporation. We can help you determine what you are owed, and can assist you in recovering the compensation you deserve.
Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees
Some employees are “exempt” from the overtime laws based on the type of work they perform. Exempt employees do not receive additional pay for overtime work. However, the exemption requirements are difficult to interpret; employers often mistakenly classify employees as exempt when in fact the employees do not fit the legal requirements for any exemption.
It is important to remember that each exemption must be analyzed individually; workers who share the same job title or job description will not necessarily have the same exemption status, because their actual duties may be different. If you are an employee seeking to recover unpaid overtime, the lawyers at The Rubin Law Corporation can help you understand whether an exemption properly applies in your situation.
Employees vs. Independent Contractors
The wage and hour laws that protect employees do not apply to “independent contractors.” Many employers therefore call their workers independent contractors in order to avoid paying overtime. But for legal purposes, what the employer says does not determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee.
Rather, the actual terms and conditions of employment determine whether a worker is a regular employee or an independent contractor. Generally, the more control that the employer has over when, where and how work is performed, the more likely the worker will be considered an employee.
Whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor can be a difficult issue to analyze correctly, and some employers who are trying to comply with the law may simply get it wrong. If you have been denied overtime because your employer says you are an independent contractor, contact an employment lawyer at The Rubin Law Corporation. We can help you decide whether you are owed overtime and how to collect.
California’s wage and hour laws are regulated by a complicated set of rules that apply differently to particular occupations and industries. For example, some regulations apply to most “commercial drivers” but not to taxicab drivers, and computer programmers may be subject to different rules than computer network analysts.
Our attorneys can help you understand the particular rules that apply to your industry and occupation. Many people believe only low paid laborers or service workers have claims for unpaid wages, overtime or commissions. Not true!
Contact Our Southern California Law Office Today
Have you been denied overtime pay or meal and rest breaks due to misclassified exempt status? Contact The Rubin Law Corporation of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills today by calling us at 310-385-0777, or you can schedule a consultation via e-mail.