Written by: John Dalton
| Read Time: 3 minutes

All employees expect proper compensation for the work they do. Businesses and employers are legally required to pay their workers a regular rate for non-overtime hours, and when they work more than the standard rate, they must receive a premium overtime wage. 

Unfortunately, sometimes employers don’t fulfill their requirements under the law. You may be able to file a legal claim to recover wages owed to you with the help of an unpaid overtime lawyer in California if you find yourself working overtime hours with insufficient pay.

What Is Unpaid Overtime?

Unpaid overtime refers to the hours worked by an employee beyond their regular working hours, for which they are not compensated according to the parties’ established wage or salary agreement. While paid overtime involves receiving additional compensation for the extra hours worked, unpaid overtime occurs when an employer fails to compensate the employee for their extended work hours. Federal and California state laws govern unpaid overtime wages.

Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law that governs wage and hour issues, setting standards for minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, recordkeeping, and child labor. The FLSA mandates that covered, non-exempt employees receive at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay at one and a half times their regular rate for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. The FLSA classifies employees as either exempt or non-exempt. Exempt employees are typically salaried and are not eligible for overtime pay, while non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime.

California Law

Under California law, employers must compensate their workers with overtime pay, whether overtime was authorized or not. The state uses a daily overtime standard, giving eligible employees the right to overtime pay (one and half times the regular rate) for every hour over eight they work in a day. Employees may also be entitled to double pay if they work more than 12 hours in one day or more than 8 hours on the seventh consecutive day of the workweek.

Overtime Exemptions

In California, exempt employees are generally paid a salary (at least two times the minimum wage rate) rather than an hourly wage. These employees are not entitled to wage and hour law protections such as overtime pay or meal breaks and rest breaks. The most common exemption categories in California are:

  • Executives;
  • Administrative workers;
  • Professionals with specialized skills, such as lawyers,
  • Computer employees, such as software designers;
  • Doctors and surgeons;
  • K-12 private school teachers;
  • State government and University of California employees;
  • Outside salespeople;
  • Truck drivers;
  • Union employees; and
  • Workers who earn commissions.

Since this is not an exhaustive list, you should speak with unpaid overtime lawyers to determine if your job is exempt from overtime pay laws.

What Can I Do If My Employer Fails to Pay Overtime?

Californians owed unpaid overtime wages generally have two options for recovery. First, you can file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Alternatively, they can file a lawsuit against the employer with the help of an unpaid overtime attorney in California. 

Recoverable Damages for Unpaid Overtime

California’s public policy ensures all workers receive a fair wage for their work paid on time. Employers who intentionally or unintentionally violate overtime laws may face legal consequences through state and federal agency fines. More importantly, an affected employee can legally recover their owed overtime pay. Overtime wages must be paid no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period after the overtime was earned.

Common Unpaid Overtime Scenarios

You may have an unpaid wages claim against your employer if you’ve experienced one of the following:

  • Unapproved overtime work. Employees may find themselves working overtime without official approval from their employer, such as when supervisors are unaware of the additional hours put in by their team members.
  • Off-the-clock work. Employees might perform job duties off the clock either voluntarily or due to implicit pressure from supervisors.
  • Employee misclassification. Sometimes, employers will attempt to illegally classify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying overtime wages and benefits to workers.

Nonexempt employees need to understand their employment status rights. They should be vigilant about tracking their work hours, and if they notice discrepancies, contact unpaid overtime attorneys to discuss the next steps.

Contact Us

Workers in California have the right to receive all wages for hours worked and overtime pay when earned and the right to file a wage claim lawsuit if an employer violates their rights. At the Law Offices of John Dalton, we can help you if your employer fails to pay you what you deserve. With decades of experience and a proven track record of successful outcomes, you can trust us to fight for your rights and the compensation you deserve. 

Contact us to schedule a consultation, or complete our online contact form to get started today.

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