California Department of Labor Steps Up to Businesses

Written by on October 27, 2012 in Money - No comments | Print this page

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Even with the protection of California labor laws, far too many hard-working employees find their paychecks not including the overtime pay they deserve. Some California companies are trying to skirt compensation provisions, which is not only immoral but illegal as well. Common scenarios include paying workers straight time for overtime or paying a day rate with no additional pay for working overtime.  With that said, it is important to understand your rights as an employee so you can make sure your employer is not cheating you out of overtime pay.

Your Basic Overtime Pay Rights as an Employee

Federal law sets the national minimum wage, which is now at $7.25 per hour, however states may set their own higher minimum.  In California, the current minimum hourly wage is $8.00.  An employee can certainly be paid more for their hourly work but must never be paid less than the designated minimum wage. In addition, if hourly employees work more than 40 hours per week, or more than 8 hours per day under California state overtime law, they must also be paid one and one-half times their regular hourly wage rates, calculated with bonus and incentive pay included.

Like in every other state, companies in California are required to adhere to specific federal and state labor laws. These laws require employers to maintain payroll records that include proof of paying wages. Sometimes, companies will attempt to forego overtime pay, which is illegal. Other times, companies will attempt to pay employees for overtime work in cash. Paying cash in lieu of overtime – or paying cash wages without a receipt in general – is illegal. When employers pay cash to their employees, it typically indicates that the employer knows they should be paying overtime but is trying to avoid doing so by paying “under the table.”

Cracking Down on Violations

Whether an employer has or has not authorized overtime, they must pay employees for any and all overtime at the relevant rate. Under no circumstances can an employee waive his or her right to be compensated for overtime.

Fortunately, for employees, the California Department of Labor is putting its foot down when it comes to employers who are not paying their employees proper overtime. There is now a new emphasis on catching violators. As a result, the Department of Labor issued over $200,000 in citations, not including the money violators owed to their employees for minimum wage and overtime.

The federal government is also doing its part to catch and punish violators. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor recently went after a garment contractor in Gardena. The business was in hot water because it paid its employees their regular hourly rate in cash when they worked overtime (ie. straight time for overtime), rather than one and one-half times their regular hourly wage as required by law.  As a result of the violations, the employer was ordered to pay $100,000 in wages and overtime to its employees.

For violators of California labor laws, overtime is a key issue. Many companies believe they can get away with not paying overtime because they are in low-wage industries, and employees in these industries tend not to file complaints. However, as more industries come under scrutiny and crackdowns become more frequent, more employees from all sectors are filing claims.

If you’re an employee and you believe you are not receiving correct overtime pay according to the labor laws, it’s important to contact a lawyer in order to receive the money owed to you. Without the help of employees who contact a lawyer, employers who violate overtime laws can be difficult to identify. You deserve to receive the correct overtime pay, no matter the industry or state you are working in.

This is a guest post.   Jillian Johnson is a professional marketing content writer who blogs on a variety of topics. Follow her @MissWritey.

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