Fred Geonetta
By: Fred Geonetta

The failure to pay employees for overtime work is among the most common wage violations in California. Employees in this state are entitled to 1 ½ times their regular pay if they work more than eight hours in a day, 40 hours in a single workweek, or more than six days in a single workweek.

But what happens if your employer refuses to pay you for overtime? You may be able to recover the unpaid overtime by bringing a complaint or filing a lawsuit with the help of an employment lawyer in California

However, most employees are often afraid that their employer would retaliate and fire them. The good news is that California state labor laws protect employees against any form of employer retaliation for filing a wage claim.

What Are My Rights If I Have Unpaid Overtime?

If you are a dedicated employee who strives to do an excellent job for your employer, you should be rightfully compensated. In fact, unpaid wages is the number one reason why California employees complain about their jobs. 

In most cases, employees who try to bring up the issue receive stern warnings, are intimidated, and some get fired. But principally, you should remember that you have a right to complain about your unpaid overtime. You also have a right to complain directly to your employer or through California’s Labor Commissioner. 

Participating in employee retaliation because they complained about unpaid wages is illegal under California’s wrongful termination laws. If your employer terminates your employment for having filed a claim, they are in direct violation of the California Labor Code. A knowledgeable labor lawyer in San Francisco can explain the numerous protection laws for workers who complain about their wages.

Unpaid Overtime Damages

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you have a right to be compensated for every hour of work done. Your employer might be forced to pay you “liquidated damages” following your wage and hour claim case. This amount could be double what the employer owes you. You may also collect the unpaid overtime, its interest, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees.

Should I File a Formal or Informal Complaint?

The FLSA has set specific labor rules in San Francisco, CA, and across the U.S. These rules also govern how overtime is handled. Under this act, you can use either informal or formal ways to complain. 

If your employer retaliates by firing, demoting, discharging, harassing, or reducing your pay, you are within your rights to sue your employer for their illegal conduct.

How Do I File a Wage Claim or Lawsuit?

You can file a wage claim with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office. A California employment attorney can also help you file the request if it is a complicated wage claim. You can file a lawsuit in a court and have your employment lawyer represent you. Your employer could be the one paying for your attorney fees if you choose this route.

If you have been fired because you filed or threatened to file a wage claim, then you should file a discrimination/retaliation complaint or hire a private employment law attorney in Oakland, CA, to help you file a lawsuit.

Does The Statute of Limitations Apply in an Unpaid Overtime Claim?

The FLSA gives up to two years to file an unpaid wages claim. But if your California claim is specifically about unpaid overtime, you have three years. Several intricacies could possibly cause confusion between federal and state employment laws; that’s why you need legal advice from a legal professional.

What Should I Do to Prove Retaliation?

Retaliation means any action your employer takes that negatively affects you or your job. Proving retaliation can be challenging, especially if you lack representation of an experienced San Francisco employment retaliation lawyer. 

In such cases, the evidence is not always readily available. And here, timing is everything if you wish to make a connection between retaliation and the termination of employment. This means the quicker you file your complaint, the better the chances of making your case stronger. 

Will I Be Awarded If I’m Wrongfully Terminated?

If your boss retaliates for filing a lawsuit or complaining about wage violations, you are entitled to receive the following damages:

Lost wages – this will typically be the pay you’d have received if you were not wrongly fired 

Punitive damages – these damages are always meant to punish the employer who committed the violations and hope to discourage such behavior 

Emotional pain and suffering – this includes compensation for humiliation, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and anxiety caused by being wrongfully terminated

Attorney’s fees

Discuss Your Options with a Qualified Legal Representative

Retaliation can come in the form of firing or certain actions short of termination but is meant to punish an employee for filing or threatening to file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner. If you believe you may have a claim for unpaid overtime, don’t be afraid to pursue it. You deserve compensation for your work.

Talk to an employment attorney if you also need more information about your case. You may be interested in knowing if your boss violated a state or federal law. Besides, your lawyer will also provide you with options and guide you if you choose to challenge their illegal conduct. 

If you have a legit case, don’t accept to be shortchanged. You could lose a lot of money in overtime violations. Let an employment attorney serving in the Bay Area and throughout northern California help you. Call 415-433-4589 for a free consultation. 

Fred Geonetta
By: Fred Geonetta

Frederick J. Geonetta is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of Law. His legal practice is entirely devoted to litigation. Mr. Geonetta has spent the past 25 years in private practice representing both plaintiffs and defendants who have been harmed or wronged by the actions of others or who have been falsely accused of causing harm to others. He represents clients across the U.S. and international clients who seek U.S. legal advice or representation.