PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS: Employee files for overtime violations

The author with client, security guard Ernesto Salamante

The author with client, security guard Ernesto Salamante

By Atty. C. Joe Sayas, Jr.

Non-exempt employees must be paid overtime compensation if they worked more than eight hours per day or more than 40 hours per work week. The failure to pay proper overtime may give rise to other violations of California’s labor laws. Non-exempt employees are normally required to account for hours and fractional hours worked.

I represented security guard Ernesto Salamante in a lawsuit against a jewelry distributor in Los Angeles. The employer made Salamante work beyond the eight-hour shift without paying him overtime, only providing him a trailer for his living accommodations inside the compound and prodded the Filipino elderly to accept a monthly salary, instead of wages based on an hourly basis. Salamante won $425,000 in our lawsuit.

These violations resulted in additional damages to the employee.
In addition to the actual overtime compensation owed, non-exempt employees may recover the following:

1) Legal Interest. In any action brought for the nonpayment of wages, the court shall award interest on all due and unpaid wages. This interest shall accrue from the date the overtime payment is due and payable.

2) Statutory Penalties. Statutory penalties are recoverable by employees. They include:

Waiting time penalties – recovered when there is a ‘willful failure to pay wages’ at the end of the employment relationship. The penalty is measured by multiplying the employee’s daily rate of pay with the number of days that the employee was not paid, up to a maximum of 30 days.

Record-keeping penalties – recovered when there is a ‘knowing and intentional failure’ by the employer to keep and furnish accurate itemized wage statements to the employee. The employee is entitled to recover up to an aggregate penalty of $4,000.

3) Attorney’s Fees and Costs – If the employee sues the employer for overtime compensation, the Labor Code grants employees a right to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

4) Civil Penalties – A civil penalty for a labor violation is a monetary assessment against an employer recoverable by the Labor Commission. Employees who sue under the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) may recover 25 percent of the civil penalties that are paid to the Labor Commissioner.

California laws provide ample wage protections to employees. However, the proceedings to enforce their rights may require a serious legal battle. Employees who want to pursue a substantial overtime claim are better served by obtaining experienced legal help.

Atty. C. Joe Sayas, Jr. is an experienced trial attorney who has successfully obtained several million dollar recoveries for consumers against insurance companies and employers. He has been selected as a Super Lawyer by the “Los Angeles Magazine,” and is a member of the Million Dollar-Advocates Forum, a prestigious group of trial lawyers whose membership is limited to those who have demonstrated exceptional skill, experience and excellence in advocacy. He has been featured on the cover of “Los Angeles Daily Journal’s” Verdicts and Settlements for his professional accomplishments. He is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center Washington, D.C. and the University of the Philippines. His firm has assisted working men and women — including drivers, technicians, parking attendants, couriers, caregivers, cashiers, salespersons, security guards, secretaries, machinists, nurses, accountants, and grocery clerks – recover overtime and meal break compensation by winning individual and class-action lawsuits.

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