Did you know that employees in California are protected by some of the most vigorous overtime pay laws among all 50 states? Most significantly, unlike federal overtime laws, which state that all non exempt employees are paid one and a half times the hourly wage when working in excess of 40 hours in a week, California Employees receive overtime pay after just 8 HOURS a day and/OR 40 hours a week. California overtime laws also provide protections in regard to double time pay for non exempt Employees who work in excess of 12 hours in a day, meal and break requirements, waiting time penalties for unpaid wages and other benefits. Take a look at some new laws that may protect you.
California Minimum Wage: As of January 1, 2014 California minimum wage is $9 an hour
California Time and a Half: When working overtime California employers are required to pay one and a half times your hourly rate. Unlike federal law which dictates overtime is after 40 hours a week, California Overtime ALSO APPLIES after 8 hours in a single work day.
California Double Time: In addition, after 12 hours in a 24 hour period you are entitled to twice your normal hourly rate as a California employee.
California Seventh Day Rule: California workers also have protection for working seven consecutive days, in which case the entire 7th day must be paid at time and a half and double time after 8 hours.
Working Off The Clock: California labor laws dictate you cannot be required to finish “closing duties,” change into a uniform at work or otherwise complete your job while being clocked out. If you are forced to do it, document it, and call us.
On Call or Standby Pay: According to California law, you must be paid while under the control of an employer. Employees on “standby” or “on call” status usually fall under this rule and are frequently not paid correctly.
A) The Employer has the Burden of Proof by creating a timely record of all hours worked
The Employer must maintain detailed, accurate records of all the hours worked by each Employee under Labor Code § 1174. If this is not done, then estimates presented by the Employee will be accepted as proof of the hours worked and the burden of proof shifts to the Employer to disprove the employee’s claim. Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co. , (1945) 328 U.S. 680.
B) Presumptions are in the Employee’s favor
The law presumes that the Employee is entitled to be paid overtime and the Employer has the burden of proving that the Employee is exempt under the law. Nordquist v. McGraw-Hill Broadcasting Company (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 555, 562.
C) Employee’s right to recover attorney’s fees, costs and penalties
The law provides that an Employee is entitled to recover all of his costs and attorney fees if he/she prevails on any part of his/her claim, Labor Code §1194. In addition, he/she is entitled to recover interest under Labor Code § 1194 & §98.1(c) and penalties, Labor Code § 203 & §226. The opposite is true for the Employer. The Employer is not permitted to recover his/her attorney fees regardless of the outcome, however the employer may recover costs and fees if the case is not brought in good faith.
As you can see, the courts weigh heavily in favor of the Employee, when it comes to California overtime pay requirements.
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 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.
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 you fall into one of these exemptions, we must carefully study the duties that you perform and what percentage of the time each duty is performed. In addition, a determination must be made as to how much independent discretion and judgement you may undertake. Even if your employer has classified you as exempt from overtime, and provides a certain job title that appears to be exempt, these factors do not determine whether you are actually exempt from overtime pay and may just be your company’s way of avoiding 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 from overtime pay lies on the employer.
Has your boss failed to pay what you are owed?
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 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. There are financial penalties for employers who fail to pay on time.
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 nonpayment 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.