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When California workers are cheated out of overtime

The freedom and flexibility of being an independent contractor is offset by a loss of rights and advantages afforded to Los Angeles employees. Unlike employees, contractors have no access to employer health insurance coverage, unemployment benefits, workers' compensation and company pensions.

Employers also don't have to pay independent contractors minimum wage or overtime. The lack of commitment to contract workers can be very tempting for employers. You can understand why some California companies purposely misclassify employees as contractors.

Overtime laws apply to nonexempt employees, excluding several types of workers listed on the California Department of Industrial Relations website. If you are classified as an exempt employee, your employer is not required to pay you overtime. You are an exception like an independent contractor.

Overtime for California nonexempt adult employees applies when work time exceeds eight hours in one day or 40 hours in one week. An employer is permitted to ask you to work more hours or days in a week. However, the employer must pay you more money for the added work time.

A nonexempt employee is entitled to "time-and-a-half" – the regular pay rate plus 50 percent of the rate per hour – for work exceeding eight hours daily and 40 hours weekly. In California, the pay rate doubles, when employees work longer than 12 hours a day or over eight hours on a seventh workday within the same week.

An employee's regular wages per week determine the base rate of pay. Calculations vary for salaried, piecework and commissioned workers. An attorney can explain how rates of pay are figured for employees whose regular rate and work hours do not conform to traditional standards.

Undercompensated employees and victims of misclassification may file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Speak with an attorney to get a better idea about the validity of a claim, the claims process and legal options.

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