When an employer has taken unfair and perhaps illegal actions to avoid paying an employee, it can have a significant impact on workers and their families. Detrimental impacts on their livelihoods can create suffering for workers if they are incorrectly classified or are victims of unpaid overtime. When workers put in extra overtime hours at work, they understandably expect to receive overtime pay.
The State of California has enacted laws intended to ensure that all wage-earning employees receive paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week or 8 hours in a day. A lawsuit has been filed by workers at Los Angeles International Airport against American Airlines alleging numerous violations of these laws.
The Fair Labor Standards Act, a federal statute that was originally a product of the New Deal, sets minimum standards that determine which workers must be paid the federal minimum wage and overtime. A recent study by the United States Department of Labor has found that a large number of garment manufacturers in Southern California are violating these rules by failing to pay the minimum wage or failing to pay for overtime work.
The right of workers in California to receive paid overtime and other fringe benefits is guaranteed by two laws: the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the California Labor Code. Both laws govern wage and hour disputes between workers and employers, and their provisions are very similar. All workers should be familiar with the basic provisions of each.
One of the most misunderstood and misused legal concepts in California is the status of "independent contractors." Most employers know that they are not required to pay overtime or minimum wage, provide workers compensation benefits or provide fringe benefits for independent contractors. Many employers try to take advantage of this distinction by simply labeling employees as "independent contractors." Some even have employees sign employment agreements that describe the employee as an independent contractor. However, whether a person is, in fact, an independent contractor or an employee depends not on labels but on a complex test that has been derived from statutes, regulations and court decisions.
The right of California workers to receive additional compensation for overtime work is protected by two statues: the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the California Labor Code. Both statutes require employers to pay extra compensation for all work in excess of 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. The extra compensation is set at one-and-one-half times the employee's regular rate of compensation.
The current vacancy on the United States Supreme Court has apparently affected the outcome of another case. The Court agreed to review the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, a case in which "service advisors" who worked for a Los Angeles car dealership claimed they were entitled to paid overtime because they were not supervisory employees. After granting certiorari, the Court declined to decide the central issue and instead sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit for further proceedings.
In California, there are certain jobs that are not solely based on hourly pay or salary, but are contingent on productivity. Those who are working under these terms, known as piece-rate or piece-work, should be aware of what this means so they are not confronted with a wage and hour dispute and are not cheated out of what they are entitled to under the law.
Here in Los Angeles, many people put in long hours and have workweeks which regularly exceed 40 hours. Most workers are generally entitled to overtime pay when their time on the job exceeds certain amounts, but unpaid overtime is an issue affecting many here and across the country. There are many state laws and local regulations regarding wage and hour violations, but at the federal level the U.S. Department of Labor is also concerned with remedying overtime violations.
One of the many benefits of living and working in the state of California is stringent state laws regarding workers' rights. Laws regarding overtime in particular help workers who might otherwise be worked excessively by their employers without adequate compensation. A Los Angeles worker who has been forced to work unpaid overtime, or who has been told by their employer that they have "waived" their overtime rights, can seek valuable advice from a wage and hour dispute attorney.