Working overtime is a common practice in California. Beyond the typical 40-hour workweek, employers can request that their employees work beyond the stated hours in their contract.
Such occasions require the employer to pay the employee the overtime pay that is rightfully theirs. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), it is illegal for the employer not to compensate the employee with overtime pay.
Unfortunately, it is also extremely common for California employers not to pay employees the overtime that they are rightly owed. More claims for overtime are filed here than any other wage and hour complaint, and a greater number of overtime settlements are paid out in California than anywhere else.
Here in Los Angeles, the experienced overtime attorneys at Wrongful Termination Law Group can help you recover the overtime pay you deserve. Contact a Los Angeles overtime lawyer today.
Overtime laws protecting employees
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 is a federal law which establishes standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, equal pay, record-keeping and child labor, for all full time and part-time workers in the private sector and local, state and federal governments.
Overtime hours calculation is based on time worked, both during a given workday and the number of days in a given week. The FLSA typically requires employers to compensate employees with at least the federal minimum wage over the duration of time worked and overtime pay at a rate of 150% the employer’s regular rate of pay for hours exceeding 40 hours in a given workweek.
California Labor Code section 510 is state employment law which requires an employer to pay overtime to non-exempt employees as follows:
- 150% the employee’s regular rate of pay (time and a half) for all hours worked beyond 40 non-overtime hours in a workweek, and between eight and 12 hours in any workday, and for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek
- 200% the employee’s regular rate or pay (double time) for all hours worked beyond twelve (12) hours in any workday, and for all hours worked beyond eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek
At times there are disagreements between federal and California overtime law. In that case, the statute that works most in the employee’s favor is the one that applies. California overtime law is generally better for employees, so California law is most often applied in pursuing overtime claims on behalf of our clients.
Who is protected by these laws?
FLSA protects American employees
The FLSA addresses employers whose annual sales amount to $500,000 or more, or businesses involved in interstate commerce. Although it may seem that the FLSA might only apply to larger organizations, nearly all workplaces are covered by the FLSA.
The reason virtually all companies are covered by the FLSA is because courts have taken a very broad interpretation of the term “interstate commerce.” For example, a company which regularly uses the U.S mail service to send or receive letters to and from other states is considered to participate in interstate commerce. In terms of laws and regulations pertaining to overtime hours, this broad interpretation works in the favor of employees.
California employment regulations protect California employees
California overtime laws cover the majority of people employed in the state, both hourly and salaried employees. There are, however, several classes of employee who do not enjoy the right to time-and-a-half, or double time, for hours worked beyond a 40-hour workweek:
- Exempt employees performing chiefly professional, executive, or administrative work
- Exempt outside salespersons, engaged in the sale of goods or services on behalf of the employer, who spend more than 50% of their work time away from employer headquarters
- Exempt union members, beholden to collective bargaining agreements which have specific provisions regarding wages, working hours, and working conditions
- Employees in professions with special overtime rules
Special overtime rules for certain occupations are provided by the California Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC). The IWC sets wage orders governing the earning structure for a variety of industries and occupations. Special overtime rules apply to:
- Camp counselors
- Personal attendants
- Ambulance attendants and drivers
- Live-in domestic employees
- Providers of residential childcare
- The worker’s children, spouse, and parents
- Agricultural workers
- Home managers for the elderly
Overtime for non-residents of California, non-citizens, and even workers without legal residence in the U.S. are still largely covered by California labor code. The only gray area is for non-Californians who work in California for less than a day at a time. The law is still unclear how this specific case should be treated.
Exempt vs. non-exempt employees
Employees whose jobs are covered by the FLSA and California regulations are classified as either exempt or nonexempt. Employees under the nonexempt category are entitled to overtime pay. Exempt employees, on the other hand, are not entitled to overtime pay.
For most employees, being exempt or nonexempt depends on three factors:
- How much they are currently paid
- How they are paid (salary, hourly, etc)
- The type of work they do
Typically, exempt employees are those performing “white collar” work – professional, executive, and administrative positions. The FLSA requires an exempt employee to:
- be paid at least $23,600 per year
- be paid on a salary basis
- carry out exempt job duties
Exempt job duties for executive positions require that the employee:
- supervise two or more employees on a regular basis
- have management as the main responsibility of their job
- have meaningful input into job status of other employees (hiring, assignments, promotion, termination, etc.)
Professional occupations are, for the purposes of exempt status:
- “Learned professions” which require “advanced knowledge”
- Primarily intellectual and requiring specialized education
- “Creative professional” work which requires significant inventiveness, creativity, and/or talent
Exempt status for Administrative jobs is defined as:
- Office or non-manual work
- Directly related to management or business operations
- Requiring the use of judgment and discretion about matters of significance
For the most part, classifying workers as exempt or non-exempt is straightforward. However, because it is in the employer’s interest to classify employees as exempt, we often have clients fall victim to misclassification, where an employee loses rightful wages because the employer has incorrectly classified them as exempt. In these cases we can file a misclassification complaint.
California overtime law
California labor code offers greater protection to employees than the FLSA does as far as overtime is concerned. The aforementioned rules regarding working more than 8 hours in a workday, 40 non-overtime hours in a workweek, or more than 6 consecutive days in a given workweek go beyond federal regulations to provide extra protection to workers.
California law has a three-year statute of limitations on unpaid wage recovery. This means that when you file your claim with the Labor Commissioner, only wages in the three years prior to the filing of your claim may be recovered.
However, when you file a civil lawsuit through Wrongful Termination Law Group, you will be able to collect up to four years of pay, as we can add a claim to the labor commissioner for unfair business practices, which serves to extend the statute of limitations.
What is the current regular rate of overtime pay?
Overtime pay is based on the compensation you are entitled to for the work undertaken. The regular rate of remuneration is made up of a range of different kinds of compensation, such as hourly earnings, piecework earnings, commissions, and salary. The regular rate should never be less than the applicable minimum wage.
Non-exempt employees must be compensated with an overtime pay for the hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek, or beyond 8-hours in a day, at a rate of at least 150% of their normal pay rate.
According to California overtime laws, employers who permit or require non-exempt employees to work overtime are usually required to pay them for the overtime hours worked.
Should an employer compensate for overtime pay, if the overtime was unauthorized?
Although the employer can discipline an employee for going over the agreed working policy, California labor code requires that the employee must be compensated for the overtime carried out. Employers must honor an employee’s overtime pay, regardless if the overtime had been authorized.
Can an employer request that an employee work overtime?
In short, yes. California’s labor laws state that an employer can instruct an employee to work overtime. If the employee refuses to work the scheduled overtime, the employer can legally discipline the employee.
Are salaried employees entitled to overtime pay?
Salaried employees must be paid for any overtime worked unless they meet the requirements for exempt status in accordance to the FLSA and California labor code, or they are categorically exempted by one of the Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders.
What should I do if my employer refuses to pay my overtime pay?
Should your employer refuse to pay you for any overtime undertaken, you are left with two options. You can either file a wage claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), or you can file a lawsuit in court against your employer to reclaim what you are owed. We are very experienced handling these types of overtime claims on behalf of our clients.
We represent employees.
California law regulates maximum hours, minimum wage, and overtime pay for employees and workers. These law require that, unless employees are correctly classified as exempt, they be paid overtime for any hours beyond the standard 40-hour workweek, or beyond 8-hours per day, at the rate of one and a half times their normal rate of pay.
If you believe you are owed overtime pay, we can help you understand your options and obtain the compensation you are rightfully owed. And if we accept your case on contingency, there is no cost to you unless we prevail in court or obtain a settlement in your favor. Click here to contact our team of skilled employment lawyers at Wrongful Termination Law Group today.