Section 510 of the California Labor Code, also known as California’s version of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), sets the rules for overtime wages. Specifically, California’s FLSA determines:
- Which workers may be entitled to overtime payments;
- When overtime wages must be paid;
- Whether a worker is exempt from overtime payments based on their occupation or job duties;
- What happens when an employer violates these requirements; and
- Various other rights that may be granted to workers under such laws.
The main purpose of California’s FLSA is twofold. First, it motivates employers to hire extra workers so that they can avoid paying excessive rates. Second, it ensures that workers are paid fairly for the additional time and effort they put in to do their job. As an extra incentive, it also punishes employers who attempt to skirt California labor laws.
Thus, if you are involved in a dispute with your employer regarding overtime payments, then it may be in your best interest to contact a California employment lawyer who is based in your local county. A lawyer can determine whether you have grounds to bring a lawsuit and can discuss the potential legal remedies you may recover if the lawsuit is successful.
What Does California’s FLSA Cover?
According to the California Labor Code, California-based employees have certain rights. For instance, California-based employees have a right to be paid at least the minimum wage. The California state version of the FLSA also provides that certain workers must be paid for overtime work, while other workers must be exempt from both minimum wage and overtime pay requirements under the law.
California’s version of the FLSA also provides guidelines on when a worker should receive time and a half for working overtime hours versus when an employer needs to pay a worker double time for overtime work. In addition, the law sets forth the rules for what can happen to an employer that ignores or violates California labor laws (e.g., they can be sued or fined).
Some other examples of workplace requirements that may be covered by California’s FLSA include the following:
- The rules for meal breaks and rest periods throughout the work day;
- Whether job preparation or mandatory travel counts as part of a worker’s normal day;
- How long a worker has to wait until they are paid for their overtime work;
- Whether an employee can be forced to work overtime or not;
- The length of either hours or days an employee needs to work in order to qualify for overtime payments; and
- How unionized workers can negotiate for a different overtime rate in their collective bargaining agreements.
What are FLSA Exemptions?
The federal FLSA sets the rules for which employees may or may not be exempt from overtime pay requirements. If an employee is deemed to be exempt from the requirements of the FLSA, then it means that an employer does not have to pay them for any work they do during the week that exceeds the standard 40-hour work week.
On the other hand, if an employee is not exempt from the FLSA requirements, then it means that their employer will legally be required to pay them for any overtime hours they put in to finish work during the week that exceeds the standard 40-hour work week.
Although the federal FLSA does not require non-exempt employees to be paid overtime for working on weekends or holidays, the FLSA does mandate that non-exempt employees be paid time and a half for them if they do.
Generally speaking, the higher up that an employee is in a company, the more likely that the employee will be exempt from FLSA requirements. For instance, employees who have the power to fire, hire, or supervise other employees are typically considered to be exempt from FLSA overtime pay requirements.
Some common examples of other workers who may be exempt from the requirements of the federal FLSA include executives, workers with specialized training, and licensed professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, or engineers.
As for workers who may be exempt from the requirements of the California FLSA, they must satisfy the following three conditions in order to be deemed exempt:
- The employee is permitted to use discretion or their independent judgment to make decisions as part of their regular job duties;
- The employee must be paid a salary that is at least twice the rate of California’s minimum wage requirements for a full-time worker; and
- The employee’s primary job duties must involve tasks that are either administrative, executive, or professional in nature.
If an employee is able to meet all three of the conditions in the above list, then they will be considered to be exempt from overtime pay requirements under the provisions of the California FLSA.
What are Some Common Legal Issues Associated with the California Fair Labor Standards Act?
There are several common legal issues that may come up in connection with the California Fair Labor Standards Act.
For example, one frequently recurring issue is whether an employer must make overtime payments to a non-exempt employee if they never received the employer’s permission to put in overtime hours. Under the California FLSA, an employer must pay the employee for all overtime work, regardless of whether they authorized them to put in the extra hours or not.
Another common legal issue that is often associated with the California FLSA is how long an employee must wait until they receive a paycheck that includes their overtime payments. In most cases, an employee who is owed an increased amount of money due to putting in overtime work hours will need to wait until the next pay cycle to be issued a paycheck that includes their overtime payments.
One last important legal issue that is routinely related to overtime pay requirements under the California FLSA is whether a non-exempt employee either works in one of the specified industries or falls into one of the categories of workers who are limited to the amount of overtime hours they can work. For instance, minors who work in the entertainment industry, such as child actors, cannot work more than eight hours in a twenty-four period.
Are There Any Legal Remedies for Violations Associated with California’ FLSA Requirements?
There are a number of legal remedies that a worker can claim if an employer violates the California FLSA or any other requirements mandated by the California State Labor Code. Some common examples of legal remedies that may be issued for violations associated with the California FLSA requirements include the following:
- A monetary damages award;
- Liquidated damages;
- Double damages; and/or
- Reasonable attorney’s fees and administrative court costs.
In addition, a California court may order an employer to create new or modify existing company policies and handbooks that are compliant with California labor law standards.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
In general, navigating the legal issues and procedural requirements that are typically associated with the California Fair Labor Standards Acts can be quite complicated without the help of a California employment lawyer.
Therefore, if you are involved in a dispute with a California-based employer that concerns a violation of a state labor law, then it is highly encouraged that you speak with a local California employment attorney for further legal advice on the matter.
A California employment attorney who has experience in dealing with issues related to the California FLSA or other state labor laws can assist you in filing a complaint with the appropriate state or federal administrative agency.
Depending on your issue, your attorney can also help you file a lawsuit in either a local California state court or a federal one. Alternatively, your attorney can negotiate on your behalf for a settlement arrangement with your employer. In addition, your attorney will be able to provide representation in court as well as at any legal proceedings that are related to your California FLSA case.
Lastly, if you are unsure whether your issue qualifies under the federal or California FLSA, a California employment lawyer will be able to determine the answer and can explain the reason as to why it is classified as the federal or state FLSA law as well.