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Unpaid Overtime/Unpaid Wages

California overtime laws provide that non-exempt employees (those employees entitled to overtime) must be paid a premium wage of 1.5 times their base pay for all hours worked in excess of 8 in a day OR in excess of 40 hours in a week or if an employer requires employees to work seven consecutive days. In addition, California law provides that non-exempt employees must be paid 2 times their base pay for all hours worked in excess of 12 hours in a day, or if employees are required to work in excess of 8 hours on the seventh consecutive day of work.

California Alternative Work Week Schedule:  There are exceptions to these overtime rules if your company has instituted an “alternative work week” schedule. Under California alternative work week laws, an employer may, for example, have employees work 4 days of 10 hours each and not be required to pay overtime wages. In order to qualify for the California alternative workweek, however, the employer must meet certain conditions, such as holding a vote with the employees and then registering the results of that vote with the State of California electing an alternative work week.  To check your employer’s compliance with this voting/registering per California labor law, see our Resources Section for a link to the “Alternative Elections Workweek Database” furnished by the Division of Labor Statistics and Research (DLSR).  If you have questions about the California alternative work week law, our CA overtime attorneys are available to discuss your legal issue.

California Unpaid Overtime:  Exempt employees are not entitled to overtime pay. Examples of exemption categories are: administrative, executive and professional. In order to determine whether or not an employee falls into one of these exemptions, a qualified California labor attorney must carefully study the duties that the employee performs and what percentage of the time each duty is performed. In addition, a determination must be made as to how much independent discretion the employee undertakes.  Although an employer may classify an employee as exempt from overtime and provide a certain job title that may appear to be exempt, these factors do not determine whether an employee is actually exempt from overtime pay.

The courts in California have been very clear that exemptions are to be “narrowly” construed and the burden for proving whether or not an employee is exempt lies on the employer. If you may have a potential claim for unpaid overtime wages that are rightfully due you, it is prudent to contact qualified California overtime attorneys to review your overtime legal matter.

California Final Paycheck Law: With the recent downturn in the economy, the illegal treatment of California employees as it relates to their final paycheck and the timely remittance of unpaid wages upon termination, discharge or voluntary resignation is becoming more prevalent than ever. If your employer is failing to pay you the wages you have rightfully earned, then this employer is not abiding by California labor laws regulating the area of California employees’ final pay. If you leave your employment involuntarily such as in the case of a termination or lay off, then your employer must pay you all unpaid wages immediately. This includes any compensation due for vacation time and other “time off” benefits like personal time off (PTO). If you resign voluntarily, then California labor law requires that your employer pay you all final wages within 72 hours.

In order to encourage employers to comply with California final pay law for all unpaid wages due upon termination, discharge, or voluntary resignation, California labor laws enforce financial penalties to employers called Waiting Time Penalties. California Labor Code 203 provides “(i) if an employer willfully fails to pay, without abatement or reduction, in accordance with sections 201, 201.5, 202 and 205.5, any wages of an employee who is discharged or who quits, the wages of the employee shall continue as a penalty from the due date thereof at the same rate until paid or until an action therefore is commenced.”

In addition to waiting time penalties, California Labor Code 218.6 also provides for the awarding of interest on all due and unpaid wages at an annual rate of 10%. California employees can also expect to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs in any action brought for the non payment of wages.

If you are still waiting for your last paycheck and the deadlines provided by the California labor law have passed, there are undoubtedly other employees experiencing this same violation. If you are the first to step forward and initiate a claim that is accepted as a class action lawsuit by our firm, then you are typically entitled to receive additional compensation as part of a “service award” if we prevail on the case. Such service award must be agreed to by both the plaintiff and defense firm and approved by the court. Our California labor law attorneys also represent individual clients in these types of related wage claims, and a free case review is available.

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