IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. THE BOSS ASKS YOU TO DO JUST ONE MORE THING AFTER YOU CLOCK OUT. OR, YOU’RE ASKED TO PICK SOMETHING UP ON YOUR WAY TO WORK - BEFORE YOUR SHIFT STARTS. UNPAID WORK CAN SEEM SMALL - SOMETIMES ONLY A FEW MINUTES, OR EVEN AN HOUR HERE AND THERE. BUT IF YOU’RE DOING WORK FOR YOUR EMPLOYER, YOU SHOULD BE GETTING PAID FOR IT.
CALIFORNIA UNPAID WAGES ARE IN VIOLATION OF CALIFORNIA LABOR LAW.
IN CALIFORNIA YOU ARE ENTITLED TO PAY FOR ALL THE TIME YOU WORK – EVEN MINUTES. UNPAID WORK IS WAGE THEFT. THE OFF-THE-CLOCK WORK LAWYERS AT LAWYERS FOR JUSTICE, PC FIGHT TO MAKE SURE YOU GET PAID WHAT YOU ARE OWED.
When it comes to California labor law, all work time counts
Think of it this way: when you go to work for a California employer, you’re basically agreeing to sell a
certain amount of your time in exchange for an agreed-upon hourly price (your hourly wage). Since the
wage is already agreed upon, the only thing a shady or careless employer might be able to fudge is how
they actually count the time you’ve worked.
Wage theft includes: all wages owed to you, even for time that you worked off the clock. Unpaid off-the-clock work in California is strictly prohibited. If your employer engages in any of the following conduct, then you may be entitled to compensation for wage theft:
- Requiring you to record your scheduled hours instead of the actual hours you work
- Requiring you to come in before the start of your scheduled shift so that you could be at your station ready to work at the exact scheduled start time.
- Requiring you to wait in line to clock in
- Requiring you to go through a security check before clocking in
- Requiring you to don your uniforms and other PPE before clocking in
- Requiring you to engage in pre-shift huddles or meetings off the clock
- Requiring you to engage in calisthenics or exercises before clocking in
- Placing unreasonable expectations and unrealistic goals
- Forcing you to work off the clock
- Requiring you to answer telephone calls or reply to emails before or after your shift, off the clock
- Requiring you to work during your meal periods, off the clock
- Not approving overtime so that you could work off the clock to complete the daily tasks
- Burdening you with unreasonable deadlines, which force you to work off the clock to complete time-sensitive tasks
- Requiring you to travel to a location other than your normal work site, off the clock
California law does not provide much wiggle room, though. The California Division of Labor Standards
Enforcement defines “hours worked” as “the time during which an employee is subject to the control of
an employer; including all of the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not
required to do so.”
Recent court cases have made it clear that this includes even the few minutes that it took time to lock
up the store and set the alarm system after clocking out. It may also include the time spent going
through mandatory bag checks on the way into or out of work. It generally includes the time it takes to
put on or take off mandatory, essential protective gear.
It may include “on-call time,” where a worker is required to carry a beeper (even if the worker is asleep).
It may include “rounding errors” when the employer’s time-keeping program rounds time down to the
nearest ten or fifteen minutes.
Work does not always have to be pre-approved for it to be paid
It may even include time that is not pre-approved, if a conscientious worker puts in a little extra time to
finish up a task that took more time to finish than anticipated, especially if this happens frequently
because an employer assigns more work than can reasonably completed in a shift. Sometimes, the
situation is a more sinister. Rather than an employee going the extra mile to go a good job, an employer
may try to coerce off-the-clock work with threats or more subtle pressure.
In both situations, you deserve to be paid. Two concepts are key: the worker was not free to decide
how to spend his or her time, and the employer either knew or had reason to know that this was the
Protect yourself from California unpaid wages
The most important step you can take is to keep track of your own time and compare it to your pay
stub. Most honest employers will fix a problem if there is one.
But you have other resources, too, especially where the situation is chronic. You can talk to an off-the-
clock work lawyer about your next steps, which can include an off-the-clock work lawsuit. At Lawyers for
Justice, PC, we have powerful California labor law attorneys who can review your situation and help you.
Contact Lawyers for Justice, PC Today for a Free Consultation
If you feel you’ve been denied wages, contact Lawyers for Justice, PC, and we’ll determine if your employer violated any federal or state laws. To get started, call (818) 647-9323 and receive a free consultation, today!