Sacramento Labor Law Attorney
Our Sacramento Labor Law Attorneys, here at the Law Firm of Eason & Tambornini, recognize that businesses thrive on the hard work of their employees. Unfortunately, many employers do not share this recognition, and take advantage of their employees for selfish benefit. Our lawyers are prepared to stand up to such employers, ensuring that employees receive the money they are rightfully due, for their hard work.
The Sacramento Labor Law Attorneys at our firm have handled cases for unpaid overtime on a consistent basis. In the current economy, employers are constantly attempting to cut financial corners and one of the easiest corners to cut is to not pay their employees for overtime. Fortunately for our clients, the law does not allow employers to do this. The right to overtime payment is mandated by both California Labor Laws and Federal Labor Laws. The laws vary slightly and some exemptions exist, but generally speaking a non-exempt employee is entitled to premium pay of one and one-half hours pay for each hour worked in excess of eight hours in a day, in excess of 40 hours worked in a week, and/or for each hour worked during the seventh day in a row. There is also a lot of misinformation in the workforce about who is entitled to overtime. Contrary to popular belief, just because your employer pays you on a “salary” basis (instead of an hourly basis) does not mean that you are not entitled to overtime. The issue is not based on the manner upon which you are paid, but rather the type of services you perform and the industry you work in. Another common area of confusion is whether you can waive your right to overtime. Most employees are not independently wealthy, and as such live, in fear of losing their job. Likewise, the current job market, or lack thereof, makes new employment difficult. Employers are regularly “asking,” (telling) their employees to work extra hours without pay, and/or to waive overtime. The law does not allow this, and the fact that you may have agreed to do so verbally or even in writing, does not forgive the employer of their obligation to pay you overtime. The waiver of rights to overtime is not enforceable under California Labor Law or Federal Labor Law. Understandable, another major area of concern is job retaliation. Employees are generally fearful that if they complain about not being paid overtime that they will be terminated by their employer, or harassed. Quite simply, termination or harassment for having filed a claim for overtime is illegal, and if your employer takes those types of actions, you could have excellent claims for those damages as well.
Most employees who talk with the Sacramento Labor Law Attorneys at our firm rarely even realize that they may have claims for missed rest breaks. The California Labor Laws are clear that employees must be given an opportunity to take a rest break when they work more than four hours in a day. For something that sounds as simple as taking a 10 minute rest break, the laws surrounding rest breaks are complicated. To determine if you have a claim, you need a consult with a labor attorney in our office. However, generally speaking, the California Labor laws require that an employee be given an opportunity to be relieved of ALL duties and responsibilities for at least 10 minutes every four hours. Being relieved of ALL duties is a critical issue. A classic example is a receptionist in an office, or an after-hours phone answering service attendant. Because the employee may have lots of time between phone calls, and even be permitted to read books or surf the internet during these gaps, the employer often asserts that dead time is a “break.” However, the employer is wrong. Being relieved of ALL duties, means being able to completely relax, not be interrupted, and not be on stand-by for an interruption. The employee must be free to meditate or pray without interruption, or to make personal phone calls.
The Sacramento Labor Law Attorneys at our firm also regularly pursue claims of employees for meal breaks. Just like with overtime and rest periods, as employers demand more from their employees, they often force employees to sacrifice their meal breaks. Generally speaking, employees in California are entitled to a 30 minute uninterrupted meal break when they work five or more hours in a day. Like rest breaks, the meal break must be uninterrupted, and free from all job duties and responsibilities. Unlike rest periods, there are some situations in California where employees and employers can agree to the waiver of a meal break. However, the requirements of the waiver are very strict and not favored by the courts. While the Sacramento Labor Attorneys at our firm do occasionally see valid written waivers, it is very rare. In the great majority of situations, the waivers are not properly done in writing, and/or are not proper under the law. Furthermore, even if you have waived your right to a meal break, you still have to be paid for that time!
Fees and Penalties
While the California Labor Code is generally not favorable to employees, the Sacramento Labor Law Attorneys at our firm have successfully been able to require employers to pay not only the unpaid wages that are owed, but regularly have been able to recover penalties and attorney fees against the employers. Contrary to what business owners and politicians assert, California’s Labor Laws are generally not very favorable towards the employee. However, some of the major exceptions to this are with respect to the non-payment of overtime, the non-payment of wages, and not permitting rest breaks or meal breaks. In these situations, not only is the law very favorable to the employee as it relates to the burdens of proof, but the law is also favorable in that it provides the employee the opportunity to recover additional penalties against the employer for not following the law, and allows the courts to award attorney fees to the employee so that the employee receives all of their wages. If you have any doubt as to whether you have been denied wages, overtime, meal breaks, or rest breaks, or if you have any questions about whether you are an exempt or non-exempt employee, please call one of the Sacramento Labor Law Attorneys at Eason & Tambornini for a free consultation.