Overtime for salaried engineer in California.

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Overtime for salaried engineer in California.

I left a company after three years of long hours including nights and weekends. As a salaried worker I received base salary, but no compensation for the extra hours. I did earn bonuses in the form of restricted stock units. This situation was ultimately a financial hardship which caused me to quit and leave the state. I was employed as an engineer, but don’t think I meet the requirements for professional exemption in California. Can I make a claim against the employer for the extra hours? Second question, It’s been 10 months and I still experience a panic response when reviewing job listings or getting calls from prospective employers. I feel i may be burned out or have some PTSD as a result of this recent work experience. Am I entitled to any compensation?

Asked on November 21, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you were overtime eligible, then even as a salaried employee, you should have received overtime when working excess hours (e.g. over 40 hours in a week): this generally an amount equal to 1/2 times your effective or equivalent hourly rate, for each overtime hour. For example: say you earned $52k per year, or $1k/week, which is equivalent to $25/hour. For each overtime hour, you'd get an additional $12.50, and you can sue for back overtime, if eligible, for up to the last 2 years from the date you institute your legal action. Salaried employees *can* get overtime so long as they do not meet one or more of the criteria (e.g. the administrative employee exemption, the professional exemption) to be exempt.
Note that engineers generally are exempt from overtime as professional employees, so you may be mistaken about your eligibility.
You cannot recover for PTSD for a stressful workplace or long hours: American law does not in any guaranty a non-stressful job and does not limit hours worked, and since your employer had no obligation to not put you under stress or to not work you long hours, you have no claim for compensation.


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