Just a few months ago, a popular Park Street, California restaurant specializing in Thai cuisine was cited for nearly half a million dollars in wage theft violations. According to the press release, cooks, dishwashers, kitchen helpers and servers at Toomie’s Thai Cuisine routinely worked up to 10.5 hours a day, seven days a week, without receiving overtime pay or a state-mandated split-shift premium, according to the release. Rather than getting paid the state-mandated minimum wage for hours worked or the legally required one-and-a-half times regular rate of pay for overtime hours, the owners paid in cash: $45 per day for servers and between $75 and $120 for kitchen staff.
Unfortunately, this type of California overtime pay violation is not uncommon. Employers in many different industries misuse and abuse day rate pay schemes. Other workers in a variety of industries fall victim to this type of unlawful pay method intended to avoid paying overtime, including oil and gas field services, mud logging, and more. Perhaps the most common type of abuse to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California’s state overtime pay laws is the misclassification of workers as independent contractors. By misclassifying an employee, employers try to avoid paying employees the overtime and other benefits that are rightfully owed to them.
California offers more generous overtime laws than what the Federal Law provides. Non-exempt employees should receive overtime pay:
- If more than 8 hours is worked in one workday, overtime pay (1-1/2 times their regular hourly wages) is required for every hour worked in excess of 8. Employees must be paid twice their usual hourly rate if more than 12 hours are worked in one day.
- Any non-exempt employee who works over 40 hours in one workweek is required to be paid overtime at 1.5 times their original hourly wage per any overtime hour worked.
- An employee is required to be paid overtime for each hour worked on the 7th day when 7 days are worked in a row, and twice their usual hourly wage for any hours worked over 8.
- For employees who work more than 5 hours in one day, California also has strict rules requiring meal and rest breaks.
In short, non-exempt workers in California can be paid a day/daily rate for all hours worked, BUT they must still be paid an additional amount to compensate for any OT hours worked. While it is easy for employers to just set a fixed day rate and claim that it covers any overtime hours worked – it is not legal and cheats workers out of their right under California overtime pay law. If you’re a California employee who believes you may not be receiving the overtime pay owed to you, it’s important to contact an experienced wage and hour lawyer to get more information about your legal rights and the money you deserve.
Due to strict time limits set forth by overtime pay laws, procrastination can be costly. If you have questions about your entitlement to overtime, be sure to contact the experts at The Lore Law Firm for a free and confidential review.