California state law and federal employment regulations protect the right of hourly workers and some salaried employees to receive overtime wages when they work long hours. California extends more comprehensive overtime protections to workers than the federal government does, but companies in California still try to deny workers their rightful wages.
Overtime claims are among the most common wage claims in part because companies will go to extreme lengths to avoid paying workers what they should. What are three of the more common ways that companies unfairly deny their employees appropriate overtime wages?
They lie about exemption status
Your employer might assume that you don’t know workplace protection laws and could try to trick you into giving up your rights. For example, your employer might offer you a salary position that has relatively low pay and then claim you have to put in 20 hours of unpaid overtime a week. There are federal minimum standards for exempt salaries. If your salary is too low, you still deserve overtime pay when you work more than 40 hours.
They expect you to work without pay
It is surprisingly common for companies to train their workers to do part of their job without compensation. Responding to client emails after your shift or doing food preparation before you start your job for the day our tasks that you deserve to receive full payment for performing.
Companies will often train their workers to accept certain routine tasks on their personal time without compensation and will punish workers who speak up against such inappropriate violations of pay rights.
Telling you overtime is against company policy
Employers may resent the financial expense that comes with overtime pay, but that does not give them any excuse to deprive workers of their earned wages. Your employer can avoid paying overtime wages by intentionally minimizing how many hours people work. Once someone has performed the work, the company has to pay them according to the law regardless of internal power. A no-overtime policy is neither justification to deny you wages nor to penalize you for working as required or scheduled.
Identifying sneaky ways that companies try to violate your overtime wage rights can help you determine if you have grounds for an overtime wage claim.