On behalf of Clark Law Group posted in blog on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
For many employees in California, overtime work, especially if it is regular, can be a major source of income. One hour of overtime each week day at time and a half pay is almost the same as working a full extra shift. The more overtime you routinely work, the more lucrative your employment can become. Unless you are a salaried or exempt worker, federal law requires that your employer pays you at least time and half for any time over 40 hours you work in a single work week. Many employers, or in some cases managers for companies, will intentionally try to avoid this obligation.
Many companies incentivize managers or owner-operators to keep staffing costs and hourly wages as low as possible. Big companies create plans for staffing, often providing monthly, weekly, daily and hourly breakdowns of the amount of staff hours that get scheduled. Typically, these plans use the previous year's sales during the same period to create an estimate. Manufacturing facilities also want to keep staffing costs low to ensure that they are maximizing the potential profit margin for the products, parts or components they make and sell. All of this pressure can result in a violation of workers' rights.
Understanding overtime laws and work weeks
Many workers believe that the work week begins on Monday and ends on Friday, but in reality it is a seven-day period. Your employer can choose any day of the week and time of the day to be the start of your work week for pay purposes, as long as it is consistent. Under federal law, a work week is a fixed period of 168 hours comprised of seven consecutive 24-hour periods. Inquiring as to the technical start and end of your work week can help you avoid any confusion or miscommunication with your employer regarding overtime pay and expectations.
Failure to communicate about the start and end times for a work week are rarely the source of the issue when it comes to overtime violations. Regardless of when your work week begins, it is illegal for your employer to require you to clock out and continue working. It is also illegal for management to change your time card to remove overtime after it is worked. Sometimes, employers will even intentionally misclassify you as an independent contractor instead of an employee to avoid paying overtime wages.
However, quarterly bonuses and adhering to the proposed staffing budget can make mangers feel like these violations of workers' rights are their best options. In these cases, you probably need the help of an experienced California workplace attorney.
The right lawyer can hold your employer accountable
If your employer is violating your rights, other workers are probably experiencing the same thing. Your workplace law attorney can help you document the violations happening so that you can seek compensation for your unpaid overtime. You won't just be seeking financial compensation. You will be standing up for the rights of your coworkers and future employees working for the company.