California employees are entitled to overtime pay in the amount of time-and-half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of eight hours in a day, all hours over 40 in a week, and the first eight hours worked on the seventh day of work in any one workweek. Employers must also pay double time for hours worked over 12 in a day, and for any work beyond eight hours on the seventh work day in a week.
All California workers – even those paid on a salary basis – are entitled to be paid overtime unless they perform certain types of job duties that do not require the payment of overtime under California law (and are thus “exempt” from overtime). In other words, the actual work performed by employees dictates whether they should be paid overtime or are exempt. The exceptions (exemptions) to the overtime laws are very narrow, and must meet strict legal requirements. In addition, there are strict pay requirements that employers must meet in order to avoid paying employees overtime, including paying a regular minimum salary that is at least twice the state minimum wage for full time work. Many employers mistakenly or purposely misclassify their employees as exempt in order to avoid having to pay overtime.
Employees with overtime claims often file their claims as class action lawsuits. See, Class Actions. Employees with overtime claims often possess other claims against their employers such as failure to provide meal and rest periods. See, Meal & Rest Breaks. In a lawsuit for unpaid overtime, employees can be eligible to recover four years of back pay for unpaid overtime from the time the lawsuit is filed, and overtime pay going forward from the date of filing if the worker is still employed and the employer does not begin to pay overtime when the lawsuit is filed.
The most common exemptions relied upon by California employers to avoid paying overtime are the administrative, executive (managerial), and professional exemptions. However, many employees who perform administrative tasks, who have the title of “Manager” or “Supervisor,” or who perform work that is regarded as professional are still required to be paid overtime under California law. It is important to remember that employees are not exempt just because their employer says they are not entitled to overtime, gives them a certain title (like “Assistant Manager”), or pays them on a salary basis.
It is also illegal for an employer to retaliate against employees for asking for overtime pay they believe they are owed, or for filing claims with the Labor Commissioner. See, Public Policy Claims.
Siegel LeWitter Malkani has obtained millions of dollars in unpaid wages in class action lawsuits for employees denied overtime compensation. See, Class Actions. If you believe Siegel LeWitter Malkani could assist you with a potential overtime claim, please contact the firm.