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Understanding Damages: Calculating Compensation for Overtime Violation Claims in California.

Written By: Mo Eldessouky Updated On: April 24, 2024 | Read Time: 6 Minutes

Overtime is a natural protection built into modern labor laws.  Employers who demand long hours from their employees must also accept the financial cost of paying time-and-a-half  for every minute over 8 hours each day and 40 hours each week. In reverse, employees willing to put in those long hours reap the reward with a significantly higher paycheck for the extra hours worked.

Or at least, you should. Unfortunately, overtime violations are extremely common. There are dozens of ways employers use to avoid property documenting and paying overtime for employees who work hours longer than the legal standard. In fact, sometimes they arrange not to pay any wages at all.

You have the right to compensation for your overtime hours. The question is, how do you calculate how much compensation you can get from an overtime violations case if you choose to hold your employer accountable under the law?

How Overtime Violation Compensation Works

Seeking compensation for unpaid overtime starts by filing a civil lawsuit against your employer. With the help of an employment lawyer, you will present evidence that includes not only the amount of overtime you have not been paid, but also the harm that unpaid overtime hours may have caused to you in the process. Damages may be calculated as a combination of economic loss and non-economic loss which will be given a monetary value.

The total compensation for the overtime violations could be significantly above your lost wages, depending on the more far-reaching impact that long hours and low pay has caused to you. Your lawyer and the court will then collaborate to determine how much your total loss is worth. This amount will be charged to your employer and they will be ordered to pay a settlement to compensate you both for the unpaid overtime and the harm their overtime violations have caused.

Your employer may also face additional penalties for willfully violating California labor laws.

How is Overtime Defined in California

In California, overtime laws are very clearly defined, and there is very little room for confusion on the part of your employer whether specific hours should be paid at the overtime rate.

Time and a Half Pay

Your employer is required to pay you 1.5x your usual rate of pay (ex: $12/hr becomes $18/hr):

●      For hours worked beyond 8 hours a day, up to and including 12 hours a day.

●      For hours worked beyond 40 hours in a work week.

Double Pay

Your employer is required to pay you 2x your usual rate of pay (ex: $12/hr becomes $24/hr):

●      For hours worked beyond 12 hours a day.

Like normal wages, paid time is calculated by the minute. An extra half-hour beyond 8 hours in a day will result in 30 minutes of pay at the overtime rate.

Common Overtime Violation Methods

There are many different examples of how your employer may be reducing your rightful overtime pay, from unpaid hours of work to miscalculating the correct overtime rate for your extra hours.

●      Misclassification as Exempt/Salaried

●      Failure to pay overtime hours at the overtime rate

●      Ignoring commission and pay differential when calculating overtime rates

●      Failing to calculate for procedural and on-call time

●      Demanding off-hours work without pay

●      Demanding work through unpaid breaks

●      Failure to pay for partial overtime hours (rounding down)

●      Failure to pay for overtime hours

Possible Economic Damages for Overtime Violations

Economic damage is the first and most concrete way to calculate compensation for overtime cases. Economic damages are determined through evidence of real financial loss caused by the failure to pay sufficiently for your overtime hours of work. It begins with lost wages, but other expenses can also be included in  your economic loss.

Lost Wages

The damages from lost wages will include the total pay you were not given for overtime hours worked. This can include hours in which you were given  your normal rate of pay instead of being paid at the overtime rate, but it can also include hours where you were not paid at all. For example, requests to do more work after you go home should be paid as overtime, and often these hours are not paid at all.

If you can put together evidence of the total hours you worked compared to your pay records, compensation for lost wages is often simple to calculate.

Stress-Related Medical Fees

Overtime has been known to be harmful to the health and wellbeing of workers since the 1800s. That’s why it costs employers so much. The stress and possible injury caused by the excessive work may have resulted in additional medical costs, from doctor visits and therapeutic treatments to over-the-counter medications. If so, these costs can be considered part of your economic loss.

Accrued Debt from Unpaid Bills

If you were counting on those overtime payments in order to pay your bills, you can consider the debt, interest, and financial penalties such as late fees caused by unpaid wages to be part of your economic damages.

Lawyer Fees

Lastly, your right to take your employer to court should not cause you financial harm. It is common to include lawyer fees in the calculation for economic damages when suing for unpaid overtime wages.

Possible Non-Economic Damages for Overtime Violations

Because overtime itself is potentially harmful and unpaid wages can damage your livelihood beyond simple economic loss, your employer may also be on the hook to compensate you for non-economic damages. When seeking compensation for overtime cases, your lawyer will help you put together records of non-economic damage done to your person, family, or life as a result of working long hours without proper compensation.

Pain & Suffering / Emotional Distress

Overtime is inherently harmful, and can cause pain, suffering, and emotional distress from the long hours, limited recovery time, and lost time for your personal life. You may have also been caused suffering if you sought to receive your overtime pay and found obstacles in your way or even threatened or penalized when asking for fair pay for your time.

Health Damage

If your health has suffered from working unpaid overtime, you can include the impact on your health as a non-economic form of damage in addition to any medical expenses that may have resulted.

Missed Opportunities

Did you have to let other opportunities pass you by to work the unpaid overtime hours? Did you do so because you believed you would be compensated at overtime rates for your time? The cost of missed opportunities, either financial or personal, can be calculated as a type of damage.

Denial of Daily Life Pleasures

One of the more subtle non-economic damages is the “Loss of ordinary pleasures of everyday life”. Excessive overtime may be considered to have denied you the right to personal time, family time, even the ability to relax in your off-time if your health was damaged and off-time was too limited.

Denial of the Right to Pursue Alternate Employment

Lastly, if your hours were so excessive that you did not have the option to seek alternative employment, you can list denial of your right to pursue your choice of employment among the non-economic damages.

Claim Proper Compensation for Your Overtime Case

If you have been unpaid or underpaid for your overtime hours, it’s time to take legal action. Not only has your employer committed wage theft, but they may be doing the same to countless others in your position. You have the legal right in California to stand up against unpaid overtime. In fact, your compensation for overtime violations may cover everything you have lost from the long hours and underpay, including non-economic loss and the potential for punitive damages added to your settlement, as well.The California employment lawyers of Eldessouky Law are here to help. We are dedicated to defending the employee rights to fair treatment and fair pay for all California workers. Contact us today for your initial consultation.

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