Employer Refuses to Pay Overtime

I am a worker in California who is paid an hourly wage. On Friday the 16th of
September our supervisor did a phone conference with us that kept us an
additional 40 minutes past when we were supposed to be off, qualifying for 40
minutes of overtime. Payroll is being processed today and they do not want to pay
this overtime, instead offering to take us out to lunch when they get back into
town to make up for the overtime. The owner of the company is foreign and does
not seem to understand CA Labor Codes. I am wondering what is the best course of
action to do in this case.

Asked on September 27, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You don't earn overtime just by working past your normal scheduled end time. You earn it if you work more than 40 hours in a workweek, or if (in your state) you work more than 8 hours in a single workday. The time past 40 hours in a week or 8 hours in a day is overtime; but if you did not meet those standards, then even if you worked past your normal end time, there is not overtime.
Legally, if you were due overtime and are not paid it, you could file a wage and hour complaint for the money with the state department of labor. The question is, however: is it worth doing this? Say you are paid $18.00 per hour, and you were paid nothing--not even base wage--for that extra 40 minutes, and that all 40 minutes were overtime. Your overtime wage is $27.00 per hour; 40 minutes is 2/3 of an hour; 2/3 of $27 if $18...is it really worth filing a legal complaint against your employer for $18? Especially because you will not be paid for the time you spend on the complaint?
If there is a pattern of nonpayment of reasonable or significant amounts of overtime, that's different--that's worth taking action. But a one-time or very occasional failure to pay is probably not worth, as a practical matter, taking action.


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