Hourly employees in California are generally entitled to receive overtime compensation at the rate of 1.5 times their normal hourly wage. This guarantee is embodied in both state and federal law. Employees, however, often work for employers who try to avoid the mandatory part of the law by manipulating the classification of their employees. Understanding the methods used by these employers can help employees recover all of the wages that they have legally earned.
The battle over exemptions
Both state and federal law classify certain employees as exempt from the mandatory overtime requirement. These exempt classifications include executives, supervisory employees, and other specific categories. Employers who want to evade the mandatory requirement will classify an employee (or an entire class of employees) as belonging to a class that is exempt. Often, an employee who performs mostly piece work will be classified as an executive or supervisory employee and therefore not eligible for mandatory overtime. Both state and federal regulations state that such classifications be supported by evidence of the employee’s duties and that the exempt classification must be supported by proof that the substance of the employee’s job entails duties are typically exempt in other settings.
Protections for employees
State and federal law provide that employees who successfully sue an employer to compel compliance with the mandatory overtime regulations can collect back pay with interest and also recover their attorneys’ fees. Anyone who believes that they have been illegally deprived of mandatory overtime may wish to consult an experienced employment attorney for advice on the facts necessary to pursue a successful claim for overtime.