OFF-THE-CLOCK WAGE VIOLATIONS IN CALIFORNIA
July 29, 2020
In California, employees enjoy wage protections that rise above those afforded by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. State legislation and State Supreme Court rulings have raised the bar for employers in California, setting strict overtime pay standards and aggressively addressing “off the clock” work. Employers need to be extremely accurate in tracking all hours worked, even down to the minute, and then paying accordingly. Additionally, employees have the right to legally address any wage injustices they’ve suffered.
We at Robinson Bradford LLP are seasoned labor and employment law attorneys who have long been helping clients with wage issues and protecting workers’ rights. Our attorneys will assess your situation, conduct an investigation, and help you fight for the full legal remedy due to you. We proudly serve employees seeking redress throughout Stockton, Temecula, Costa Mesa, and Irvine, California.
Overview of California's Overtime Rules
The FLSA grants overtime at one-and-a-half times the regular rate of hourly pay to nonexempt (hourly, non-salaried) employees – who represent 58 percent of all U.S. workers according to the Bureau of Labor Standards – for hours worked beyond 40 in a week. In California, the standard is different, requiring overtime pay after 8 hours in a day and 40 hours in a workweek. In addition, the rate rises to double-time after 12 hours in a day and for all hours worked past the first 8 on the seventh consecutive day of a workweek.
Some exemptions exist. For instance, if the workweek consists of four 10-hour days, overtime is not owed until after the 10th hour. Whatever the circumstance, however, employees need to keep precise hourly work records, and employers have full rights to challenge any inaccuracy.
What About Working Off the Clock – De Minimis Time?
The FLSA allows employers to disregard small increments of work time as de minimis, i.e., time that is insignificant. In 2018, however, the California Supreme Court ruled that state employers cannot hide behind this standard because employees must be paid for “all hours worked.”
What is de minimis time? Usually, this amounts to what is often called “working off the clock.” For instance, you might stay on a phone call for several minutes after quitting time just to finish up an assignment or address a customer’s need. Your employer may want to shrug this off, but it must be paid. Alternately, an employer might call you at home to ask a question or have you do a simple task that he deems urgent. No longer can this be unpaid. The same goes for texts and emails that are received after hours.
Also, if an employee is facing a work deadline for a report due the next day and chooses to tidy up the loose ends on the report at home, such “off the clock” work is also compensable.
The Employer's Fall-Back Defenses
A savvy employer is going to establish and enforce a clear policy forbidding “off the clock” work, but not all do. When challenged on compensation for such work, employers might fall back on the argument that it was done voluntarily, or that it was done without his knowledge, or that it wasn’t authorized. However, the standard that “all hours worked” must be paid still applies.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
If you have suffered from withheld pay for overtime or “off the clock” work, you have a legal right to take action. That’s where an experienced labor and employment law attorney is your best ally. The attorney can do the research and determine if you qualify for a lawsuit against your employer and then can follow through to help you fight to obtain your unpaid wages.
Call Robinson Bradford LLP today for a free case evaluation. We will fight eagerly and vigorously for your just compensation for unpaid or lost wages. We proudly represent workers in Stockton, Temecula, Costa Mesa, and Irvine, CA.