California overtime is awarded to an employee when
California exempt labor laws do not apply, thereby making such an employee non-exempt. When a non-exempt employee works over 8 hours in a day or over 40 hours
in a week, overtime pay is required. Overtime must be paid at the rate of 1 ½ times the employees rate of pay, and two times the rate of pay when an employee
works over 12 hours per day (double time). In addition, California non-exempt employees are also entitled to overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a
week or work for seven consecutive days. Such non-exempt employees must be paid 1 ½ times their rate of pay per state of California exempt labor
Employers frequently fail to pay overtime for two reasons. The first is economics. It is simply less costly to play straight wages, or to label someone
“salaried, exempt”. Unfortunately, what an employer fails to realize is that when a misclassified employee makes a claim, they may be faced with paying the
overtime wages, penalties, interest, and attorney fees for this misclassification mistake if the employee is determined to be a California non-exempt
employee. This mistake can be very costly when employers do not follow California overtime rules for classifying California exempt versus non-exempt
The second reason employers fail to pay overtime, is a misunderstanding of the law. There are many myths that employers follow such as “if I just give an
employee the job title of manager or supervisor, I can pay them a salary only and consider them exempt from overtime”. This is incorrect, since among other
tests, the duties of the employee determine whether or not they are exempt and not simply the job title. California exempt employee labor laws are designed to
protect employees from this common type of misclassification. California laws for exempt employees are clearly outlined through the various California wage orders and
employers can easily access this information to insure their employees pass the California exemption test.
When an employer is taken to task on the overtime issue and has misclassified an employee, a knowledgeable California labor law attorney will investigate the claim and in some instances other witnesses come forth to
claim their overtime, costing the employer far more than they would have paid with the proper California exemption classification.
It is a common response of employers to initially deny liability of overtime claims. In some cases employers feel that they
have “paid the employee enough”. In other cases, they paint the employee as a poor worker to take the attention off of the real issue which is California overtime pay. In other situations it is not uncommon for the employer to hire a general practice attorney
who is inexperienced with California overtime claims and/or California exempt employee labor law. In this instance, the lawyer must be educated as to his or
her client’s exposure to such claims. This can be a very expensive education for his client, the employer.
If you have questions regarding your
California exempt status or feel you may have a potential overtime claim related to being improperly classified, our California labor law attorneys are
available to review your potential wage claim.