Is Your Employer Withholding Overtime Pay?

Overtime is one of the most important protections the federal government provides workers. Requiring that covered employees receive extra compensation for working more than 40 hours a week incentives employers to provide livable hours. However, some employers attempt to avoid paying this additional compensation and push their workers harder by misclassifying them as exempt. 

If you’ve ever wondered, “should I be getting paid overtime,” you may have grounds to pursue back pay for the unpaid overtime your employer is withholding. Here’s how to tell if you should be eligible for extra hours and what you can do if you haven’t received it.

Are You Eligible for Overtime Pay?

Overtime eligibility is considered the default, not the exception. All workers are eligible for extra pay for working more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week unless their employment contracts and conditions meet the specific requirements for exempt status. You are automatically eligible for overtime pay unless you fall into one of the following categories and meet all the criteria:

  • Executive: Your primary job duties involve management, the supervision of multiple employees, and the authority to hire and fire people. Examples include executives, managers, and other high-level employees.
  • Administrative: Your duties include managing general business operations and using discretion and independent judgment. Examples include secretaries, office managers, and executive assistants.
  • Professional: Your duties require high-level knowledge and primarily consist of intellectual or artistic work. Examples include researchers, artists, attorneys, and teachers.
  • Outside sales: At least 50% of your duties consist of making sales outside the regular business place. Examples include door-to-door salespeople and traveling sales representatives, but not in-house salespeople.
  • Computer: Your duties consist of developing, documenting, analyzing, creating, or testing computer systems. Examples include computer programmers and database managers.

Who are non-exempt workers? Everyone else. Furthermore, if you meet these criteria, you must also be compensated a minimum of $684 per week or $35,568 annually. If you are not receiving a salary of at least that much, you are non-exempt and should receive compensation for extra time if you work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Pursue Back Pay for Unpaid Overtime

If you believe you are owed overtime by your employer, you can pursue back pay. Here’s how to get back pay:

  • Consult with an attorney. An experienced California overtime attorney can help determine if you have grounds for a back pay claim.
  • Document your duties and rate of compensation. You’ll need to show that you don’t meet the criteria to be exempt from overtime pay. Write down what you do daily and collect your pay stubs to show your earnings.
  • File a complaint with your employer. Notify your company that you believe you aren’t receiving overtime pay for which you’re eligible to see if they will make matters right. 
  • Take legal action. You can take legal action if your employer refuses to compensate you for your extra hours.

At Alexander Morrison + Fehr, LLP, we are dedicated to helping our clients pursue fair compensation for their work. Schedule your consultation to learn how we can help you pursue back pay for unpaid overtime in California.