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Wage and hour violations and workers' rights in California

Under California law, hourly employees are required to receive time-and-a-half pay after working eight hours in a day. Employees are also required to receive time-and-a-half pay to employees who work seven straight days in a workweek. California law also mandates double-pay for employees who work more than 12 hours a day, or employees who work more than eight hours on the seventh straight day in a work week. There are exceptions to these laws, but generally speaking, hourly employees and even many salaried employees in California are entitled to overtime pay.

Who qualifies as an exempt employee?

Employees who are not entitled to overtime pay are exempt from overtime laws and other employment laws. As a result, these employees are known as exempt employees. Some unscrupulous employers will classify employees as exempt to circumvent overtime and other laws. In California, employees who are classified as exempt must meet the following tests:

  • The employee must spend at least half of his or her working hours performing duties that require discretion and independent judgment.
  • The employee must be paid at least twice the minimum wage.

In sum, exempt employees spend the majority of their day doing things that require independent judgment. Under California law, employees wrongfully categorized as exempt can seek damages for their unpaid wages, unpaid overtime, missed breaks and meals and other damages.

A former Amazon manager brings a misclassification claim in California

A recent example in the news provides us with an example of a misclassification case. A former shift manager at Amazon claims the company told him that his job would primarily entail supervisory duties. Instead, he and other shift managers mostly performed manual labor. In fact, the plaintiff, Michael Ortiz, alleges he was injured while performing manual labor. Other Amazon shift managers may join this particular claim as a class action. Going forward it will be worth watching to see how this suit proceeds. Any salaried employee who has reason to believe he or she may be misclassified should strong consider discussing their situation with a qualified employment lawyer.

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