Law Office of Lowell Steiger

California Wage and Hour Violations – Does Your Boss Owe You Back Pay?

Author: Lowell Steiger

Published On: October 15, 2008

Answers to Questions About Your Wage & Hour Rights

Do you wonder if you have a claim against your employer for failure to pay you proper wages? The Law Offices of Lowell Steiger and the Law Offices of Steven Waisbren would like to provide answers to some of the more common questions, and we are happy to discuss your particular situation at your convenience.

Question –

What is the general rule about payment of overtime wages?

Answer –

Under California law, a “nonexempt” employee 18 years of age or older shall not be employed more than eight hours in any workday, or more than 40 hours in any workweek unless he or she receives 1½ times his or her regular rate of pay for all hours worked over eight hours in any workday, over 40 hours in the workweek, or more than six days in any workweek.

An employee is entitled to double his or her regular rate of pay if he or she works in excess of 12 hours in any workday, and for all hours worked in excess of eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.

Question –

What is an exempt employee?

Answer –

An exempt employee is one to which the overtime wage protections under the California Labor Code do not apply. If an employee is truly exempt, they are not entitled to overtime wages, regardless of the number of hours he or she works.

Question –

How do I know if I am an exempt or nonexempt employee?

Answer –

There are a number of exemptions which exist, and may apply to your particular situation. For the most part, these would include the administrative exemption, executive exemption, and the professional exemption. Generally, the existence of these exemptions depends upon numerous factors, including the amount of independent judgment and discretion given to the employee on significant matters, the extent of supervisory or managerial duties the employee performs, and, most importantly, whether the employee performs exempt duties more than 50% of the time. Of course, there are a number of other considerations which must be analyzed.

A determination of your exemption classification should be made only after consultation with an attorney since there are many reasons that an employee may be nonexempt under the law .

Question –

What if my employer has classified me as an exempt employee? Am I bound by that classification?

Answer –

Absolutely not!! Many employers will misclassify employees either mistakenly, or in an effort to avoid paying the employee overtime wages to which he or she is entitled. Don’t assume that your classification is correct. You may be entitled to many years of back wages, interest, and other damages.

Question –

Can I be fired for making a claim for overtime wages?

Answer –

No. California law specifically prohibits an employer from doing so.

Interesting Facts About Wage & Hour Claims

  • An employer is obligated to pay you overtime even if the overtime hours were not authorized. The employer can discipline you for working unauthorized overtime hours, but the employer must still pay overtime wages for those hours.
  • Discretionary bonuses or monies paid as gifts on holidays are generally not included for purposes of determining the employee’s regular rate of pay. Therefore, such bonuses are not computed in the calculation of overtime wages.
  • Even if an employee is paid a salary, they are still entitled to overtime wages as long as they are not exempt (See discussion in Q & A section).
  • As long as overtime wages are paid, an employer may require an employee to work overtime hours. The employee may be disciplined for refusing to do so.
  • Any agreement signed by an employee to waive entitlement to overtime wages is not enforceable. The employer is still obligated to pay overtime.
  • The burden of proving that an employee is “exempt” is on the employer. The worker is always presumed to be entitled to overtime compensation.

Prior Wage & Hour Posts of Interest

The Law Offices of Lowell Steiger Has Expanded Its Practice 

to Represent You for Your Wage and Hour Claims

The Law Offices of Lowell Steiger, working in association with the Law Offices of Steven Waisbren, is happy to provide you with a free consultation, including a full analysis of your entitlement to overtime wages, minimum wages, and other back pay and damages. Give us a call, and we will set up an appointment for you to meet with one of our qualified and experienced attorneys.

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