Unless you are exempt under California labor law, your employer must pay overtime wages if you work more than 8 hours per day or exceed 40 hours in a week. California wage and hour laws impose stiff penalties for companies that don’t pay unpaid wages. If you have unpaid overtime, you may be able to recover unpaid wages and penalties levied against an employer. Continue reading to learn about when you can file a lawsuit.

Do You Get Overtime for Your Job in California?

Whether or not you can get overtime depends on your classification. In California, employees typically fall under one of two categories:

  • Non-exempt: Employers are required by law to pay overtime wages to a non-exempt employee if they perform job duties beyond the maximum full-time hours.
  • Exempt: An exempt employee not covered under wage and hour laws may be someone paid on a time, commission, or piece rate basis; or an independent contractor.

How Much Overtime Do You Get?

California overtime law requires an employer to pay overtime wages to a non-exempt employee who performs any work over the maximum allowable time per day/week. An employer also cannot require you to perform “off-the-clock” work without being compensated for it. Overtime pay, at a minimum, must be one and one-half times your regularly hourly rate, and be double the regular hourly rate of pay if you exceed 12 hours in one workday or eight hours on the seventh day of a workweek. You’re entitled to overtime pay so long as the employer permitted you to perform extra work.

Can You Sue Your Employer for Unpaid Overtime in California?

If your employer violated state overtime law, you may file a wage and hour lawsuit no matter how much or how little you are owed, plus interest. The employer may be liable for violations such as failing to pay overtime wages to employees who work:

  • More than 8 hours in a day
  • Over 40 hours in a single workweek
  • More than 6 consecutive days

California wage and hour laws also allow you to recover unpaid overtime pay plus damages if an employer:

  • Requires you to work on a lunch break
  • Requires work to be performed off the clock
  • Misclassifies you as an exempt employee or independent contractor

You can file an unpaid overtime lawsuit within three years of the date of an employer’s most recent violation, as set by the state’s statute of limitations. This includes unpaid overtime pay, an unpaid lunch break, or even sick leave as well as an illegal deduction. Also, a California employer is forbidden by law to retaliate against workers who exercise their rights in pursuing unpaid overtime wages. Illegal actions include wrongful termination, demotion, harassment, discrimination, reducing hours, or otherwise treating an employee unfairly.

What Damages Can You Receive from an Unpaid Overtime Lawsuit?

Although the total compensation and damages awarded vary on a case-by-case basis, you may be able to collect:

  • The full amount of unpaid wages
  • Interest on unpaid wages
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Court costs
  • Double damages, if federal labor laws were violated and the violation wasn’t due to a good faith error

A California wage and hour attorney can help you learn what damages you may be entitled to.

Contact Lawyers for Justice

If you believe your employer owes you unpaid overtime, Lawyers for Justice can help. Our California employment law attorneys know every detail of the state’s wage and hour laws and federal regulations covering overtime pay. Located in Los Angeles and serving clients across Southern California, we are open during the COVID-19 pandemic and can provide the legal representation needed to help you receive hard-earned wages. Call 818-587-8423 for a free consultation.