According to the labor laws, working over 8 hours a day or over 40 hours a week guarantees you overtime pay in California. If your employer has defaulted on paying your overtime dues, you can recover damages for unpaid OT through an unpaid OT lawsuit.
Overtime wages should be compensated at 1.5 times the regular pay rate for hours worked beyond the regular working hours. Regular working hours are usually 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. If you work after seven consecutive days, the rate for that day should be doubled. Violating is risking penalties and damages for unpaid overtime in California.
Working Off-the-Clock Explained
Working off-the-clock means forcing employees to work beyond their working hours without pay. Some companies force employees to continue working even after clocking out and fail to compensate them for the extra hours. The pay rate for off-the-clock working is the same as the regular wage rate. If off-the-clock work extends beyond regular working hours, you’re entitled to OT pay. Off-the-clock work may include:
- Beginning a shift earlier
- Ending a shift late
- Working during breaks
Penalties for Wage Violations
The Fair Labor Standards Act demands that employers offer a good working environment to employees, and it’s enforced by labor officers stationed in different locations of the U.S. The officers evaluate compliance by assessing data about a company’s working practices, regular working hours, wage policy, and much more. If violations are thought to be innocently done, the employer will be advised accordingly, but they could be charged or fined ( a maximum of $100,000) for intentional violations. Violating the child labor act can attract a fine of up to $100,000 for each minor subjected to child labor.
Besides the penalties for wage violation, the FLSA has banned the use or shipment of commodities produced through labor exploitation, including wage violations and child labor. The typical penalties for wage violations include:
- Penalties for Unpaid Wages
Claims for unpaid dues are called damages and not penalties because damages focus on the loss suffered, while penalties are fines for infringing on employees’ legal rights. If an employer fails to settle your dues, you’re entitled to back pay (wages owing), and it’s calculated as hours worked multiplied by hourly pay rate.
- Penalties for Working During Breaks
Employees in California are entitled to 10 minutes of paid rest for each hour worked and a 30minutes lunch break for five hours worked. Employers are liable for a penalty equivalent to one hour’s pay of the employees denied lunch break, and the same applies for rest breaks (one hour for missed rest breaks)
- Damages for Minimum Wage Violations
If your employer fails to pay the minimum wage, you’re entitled to liquidated damages, which cater to unquantifiable losses. The labor law makes a presumption that you suffered losses after being denied a salary in minimum wage violations. Liquidated damages should be equivalent to the lost wage. Supposing your employer paid you $30 for each hour worked instead of $40, you’re entitled to $10 as the lost wages for each hour worked, and if you worked for 50 hours, you should recover $1,500 for unpaid wages and another $1,500 for liquidated damages.
- Penalties for Waiting Time
You’re entitled to your full dues immediately if your services are terminated in California. If you resign and a 72 hours notice is given to the management, you’re entitled to your full dues when quitting. Employers are allowed a 72 hours grace period to pay employees if they quit without notice. For each day the employer delays the payment (for 30 days), the employee is entitled to a full day’s wage. If your typical daily wage is $100 and the employer delays for 10 days, you should claim a waiting time penalty of $1000. The final check should include the following:
- Regular wages for all hours you worked.
- Accrued wages.
- Unspent leave.
- Unpaid OT, otherwise you can recover waiting time damages.
- Penalties for Wage Statements Violations
The labor law requires employers to include specific information in payslips, including the pay rate, total hours worked, statutory deductions, the total wage paid, and much more. Failure to provide that information or misrepresentation attracts $50 for first offenses and $100 for subsequent offenses. The maximum penalty should not exceed $4,000
- Payday Policy Violation Penalties
These damages can only be collected by a person who files a legal action for enforcing the labor laws on behalf of the state. If your employer delays your salary, uses the wrong pay rate, or excludes some hours, they’re penalized $100 for first offenses and $200 for subsequent offenses.
It’s your legal right to fair compensation for work done beyond the regular working hours. If your employer exploits you, contact a lawyer and recover damages for unpaid overtime in California.