Overtime has always been a liability for California employers because determining who qualifies for it and who doesn’t has always been an enormous task. Despite what most people believe, you can receive overtime pay in California if you earn below a certain amount.

The unfortunate thing is that employees’ misclassification as being exempt from overtime is a common problem facing employees. This is often an expensive mistake an employer can make because the law requires them to prove that an employee is exempt. A California employment law attorney at Geonetta & Frucht will most likely pursue all overtime damages, penalties, interests, and even attorney’s fees if a violation is discovered.

Can I Get Overtime on Salary Pay Under Federal Law?

Receiving a regular salary is not an automatic pointer that an employee should be exempt from receiving overtime. In many cases, the employee must make a certain amount and pass work duty tests to be exempt.

Under federal law, employees with a salary position qualify to receive overtime unless they receive over $455 per week on a salary basis. However, this standard does not apply to doctors, teachers, lawyers, or outside sales employees.

The Department of Labor requires employers to pay overtime to non-exempt salaried employees at least 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked over the 40 hours during a workweek.

What Are My Overtime Rights in California?

California law protects non-exempt employees better than federal law. The state’s Department of Industrial Regulations asserts that a salaried employee must be paid overtime unless they qualify for the exempt status as defined by state and federal laws. If you’re a non-exempt employee, you will therefore be paid one and a half times your regular hourly rate for:

  • All hours you’ve worked more than the daily 8
  • All hours you’ve worked more than 40 in a single workweek
  • The first 8 hours you’ve worked on the seventh consecutive day of work

You are eligible for overtime in California twice your regular pay for:

  • All hours you’ve worked more than 12 in a single workday
  • All hours you’ve worked more than 8 on the seventh consecutive day of work

What Are California’s Overtime Pay Laws?

Two main sets of laws dictate how overtime is handled in California. The first is The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (commonly referred to as “FLSA”), and the second is California Labor Code section 510.

Sometimes federal and state laws differ. In such cases, the law that is most favorable to the employee will apply.

Which Employees Are Exempt from Overtime in California?

Not everyone is eligible for overtime. Being an overtime-exempt employee means your employer does not need to pay you 1.5 times work off the clock. Besides, California employers are not required to provide regular rest breaks and meals for exempt employees.

The California Labor Code provides a list of people who have the exempt status to whom overtime laws do not apply.

  • Administrative, executive, and professional employees form the largest group of exempt employees as long as their monthly salary is twice California’s minimum wage.
  • Computer professionals dealing with computer systems analysis, hardware design, program design, software, or computer systems are exempt from overtime.
  • Licensed surgeons and physicians, except interns, residents, or doctors covered in collective bargaining agreements, are also exempt. Registered nurses can be categorized as exempt if they are primarily engaged in administrative and executive duties.
  • Employees working for the state or local governments, or the University of California are also exempt from getting overtime.

What If My Employer Misclassifies Me as an Exempt Employee?

Misclassification is common in California. An employer might misclassify a non-exempt employee as exempt in an attempt to avoid paying overtime. Many California employees have to file a lawsuit with the help of a labor lawyer in San Francisco, CA when their rights are violated.

Most employers take advantage of their employees’ ignorance regarding California labor laws to force working overtime and claim that they are exempt because they receive a salary rather than an hourly wage. If this is your case, your employer may owe you compensation for unpaid overtime and an hour’s pay for each meal you were denied.

If your employer reiterates with reduced hours, reduced salary, or termination of employment, you may recover damages with the help of your California employment attorney.

How Is My Overtime Calculated?

The California Department of Industrial Regulations directs the calculation of hourly rates as follows:

If you receive an annual salary and you’re eligible for overtime, your yearly salary will be divided by the 52 weeks of the year, and then divided by the 40 hours of a single workweek to give an hourly rate. If you receive a monthly salary, it will first be multiplied by 12 to get an annual salary before dividing by 52, then 40.

An employee under two different rates in a single workweek will use an average of the two rates.

If you are a salaried employee and you are non-exempt, all hours above 40 in a workweek will be multiplied one and a half times your calculated hourly rate.

When Should I Expect My Overtime Pay?

You should expect your overtime pay on the next paycheck if you qualify for it, whether your manager authorized for the overtime or not. If this does not happen, you have a right to sue your employer with protection against any discrimination.

Get Legal Assistance from A Skilled Professional

You should be compensated for putting in extra hours at work as long as you are an eligible employee. If you just realized you’ve been working extra hours without overtime pay, you may claim your dues from your employer without feeling intimidated.

You should not face your company alone. Work closely with an attorney to pursue reimbursement and reinstatement for lost wages. Call a San Francisco employment law attorney at 415-433-4589 to have your questions answered.

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.