There are several ways in which California workers can have their rights violated by employers in terms of work hours and pay. Each of these types of wage and hour violations involves a different type of legal remedy, so it is important, if you have been denied fair payment for your work, that you talk to a good personal injury lawyer who understands the laws regarding payments to employees.
One way your rights can be violated in terms of payment for work is if you are simply denied compensation altogether. An employer might ask you to work “off the clock,” and imply that if you do not you could lose your job. An example of this is when employers tell employees that they did not finish their work in a “timely manner” and must finish “on their own time.” However, it is against California employment law for any employer to require employees to work without compensation.
Another way your rights can be violated is by denying overtime compensation to you based on some classification the employer says you fall under. For example, a salaried employee might be denied overtime pay because she is not an “hourly” employee. However, a salary does not mean that an employer can legally require you to work longer hours for the same pay.
Finally, your employer might refuse to pay minimum wage for the actual number of hours worked. If you are being paid by the hour, but asked to work more than forty hours a week, your paycheck should reflect more than forty hours. If it does not, you are being underpaid according to minimum wage laws.
The law regarding overtime pay can be tricky, because there are several ways employees can be classified. However, unless you are an “exempt employee,” your employer is required to pay you overtime at the rate of one-and-one-half times your hourly pay. This includes those who work for salaries under certain conditions, as well.
The tests for overtime are as follows:
• you arrive at work early or stay late because your boss asks you to • you work through lunch breaks because your boss wants something finished immediately • you take work home at your employer’s request • you are “on call” when off work with the understanding you can be called in at any time • you have “flexible” hours, such as working very late one day and being told you can take “time off” later in the week • you travel extensively on company business and are required to be available during most of that time for work
Employers are required by California law to pay overtime in cash, not in time off or exchange of goods. If employers fail to pay overtime, they can be held liable for not only the unpaid wages but also for damages resulting from willfully bad behavior. This means that a California wage and hour attorney can assess your case and determine exactly how much you may be able to recover for wage and hour violations in California.