Federal law and California state laws support the right of workers to receive overtime compensation. Federal law requires that companies pay workers at least 150% of their average hourly wage if they work more than 40 hours in a given workweek. California expands on those rights by also requiring overtime pay for those who work more than 12 hours in a shift or seven days in a row without a day off in most industries.
Unfortunately, many workers who should receive overtime compensation work for companies that will happily commit wage theft when it comes to overtime pay. The three practices below are ways that companies unfairly try to deny their workers overtime wages.
They use a very low salary as an excuse
One of the most common myths about overtime is that it is only due to those who work an hourly job. A surprising number of people think that salaried workers never qualify for overtime pay. However, the rules about overtime are more nuanced than that.
The lower the salary, the greater the chance that the worker qualifies for overtime pay. If you don’t make at least $684 per week, your employer doesn’t pay you enough to exempt you from overtime pay requirements.
They train workers to do certain tasks off the clock
You get a new job working as a barista, and you learn that there are certain things you will have to do after clocking out at the end of your shift each night, like finishing the cleaning and closing up the store.
Maybe you take a job in retail or food service, only to discover that there are certain cleaning or preparation tasks expected before you clock in or after you finish your shift. Even if everybody at the company does it, it is still a violation of your wage rights to expect you to work before clocking in or after clocking out of a shift.
They claim workers need corporate approval for overtime pay
Companies that don’t want to pay overtime wages may have a rule stating that workers need management approval or permission from the corporate offices to work more than 40 hours and claim overtime wages.
However, sometimes workers have to unexpectedly stay late on the job if someone calls in sick or quits. If you had to stay at work and perform that labor, the company cannot deny you legally mandated overtime pay because of an internal policy.
Knowing your rights as an employee can help you fight back when a company tries to take advantage of you.