Wage and hour regulations provide crucial legal protections to employees. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt workers are guaranteed overtime wages for all hours they put in on the job beyond 40 in a given week. Unfortunately, not all California employers abide by their obligation to pay employees the full and fair overtime pay earned.
Unpaid overtime violations come in a wide variety of different forms. At Wagner Zemming Christensen LLP, we want to make sure that you know your rights under state and federal law. In this post, our Riverside wage and hour attorneys highlight four of the most common examples of overtime violations reported in Southern California.
- Misclassifying a Worker as Overtime Exempt Under the FLSA
Not all workers are entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA. Some employees can be lawfully classified as “overtime exempt” based on their salary level and job duties. To be clear, a California employer does not have the unilateral right to determine which employees are overtime exempt for the purposes of the law. Instead, overtime classification must be determined by the actual nature of their position. If you were misclassified as an overtime exempt employee, you may have been unfairly denied overtime wages. A Riverside, CA wage and hour claims lawyer can help.
- Requiring Employees to Work ‘Off-the-Clock’
Employers have a basic responsibility to track the work performed by hourly employees. The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL) notes that any worker who is paid by the hour cannot be required to perform duties while ‘off the clock’. As a starting point, these employees must be paid for all of the hours that they work in the furtherance of their employer’s interests. In addition, forcing an employee to work ‘off the clock’ may end up denying them overtime compensation that they earned.
- Mismanaging or Misrecording an Employee’s Break Time
As explained by the California Department of Industrial Relations, employees are entitled to rest breaks. When an employee takes a 30-minute (or more) lunch break, they may be required to clock out. However, for shorter breaks—such as the ten-minute break guaranteed to some workers under California state law—the employee should not be asked to clock out. An employer who mismanages or improperly records break time may end up violating a worker’s right to receive overtime pay.
- Banking Hours and Shifting Them to Another Pay Period
Finally, overtime pay must be calculated on a week-by-week basis. Employers are not permitted to “bank” hours and then shift time to avoid paying overtime. As an example, imagine that a non-exempt employee works 35 hours in one week and then 43 hours in the next week. That employee is owed overtime pay for three hours for the latter week. The fact that they were “under” their hours worked for the prior week is not relevant to the calculation. California employers do not have the right to shift hours from one pay period to another. Doing so is a violation of a worker’s wage and hours rights. Overtime is calculated for each pay period.
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