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Employees often Unpaid for Overtime, Unaware of Overtime Laws

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Many people, from restaurant workers and managers, to computer programmers aren't paid all that they're entitled to. If you have worked more than eight hours a day, or more than 40 hours in one week, you may be entitled to overtime. Some employers rely on you not knowing your rights. Trying to understand laws regulating overtime, who gets it, and how it's paid can leave you confused.

Paying overtime is not at the employer's discretion. Some employers tell their workers that they don't pay overtime, but companies don't have a choice. The law requires companies to pay hourly employees overtime rates whenever it applies. If your employer says they don't pay overtime, or won't pay you for time you worked, it's time to learn your rights.

Minimum federal standards
Laws vary from state to state, but there are minimum federal standards. Any time worked more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week qualifies as overtime. Federal law requires your employer pay your regular hourly wage plus 50 percent for each hour of overtime. For example, if you made $10.00 per hour regularly, you would make $15.00 per hour when you were working overtime.

Salaried employees may still be eligible for overtime pay.
Just because your company says you're a salaried employee, the law may see it differently. Federal law clearly defines the kinds of jobs that are not eligible for overtime pay. If you don't fit into one of those strict categories you could be eligible for overtime pay.

Some of the most common abuses of overtime pay occur amongst professionals and stock brokers. Remember, the law decides who gets overtime, not your employer.

California laws stand out
California sets a higher standard than the federal government, and has some of the most
stringent worker protection laws in the country. While federal law still applies, California law adds more:

� If you work more than 12 hours a day, you get paid twice your regular rate. For example, if you regularly get $10.00 an hour, you would get paid $10.00 for the first eight hours, then $15.00 an hour for work over eight hours (the next four hours) then $20.00 an hour for anything over 12 hours.

� If you work more than six days in a row, California law requires your employer to pay your hourly wage, plus 50 percent for overtime.

� Managers and assistant managers are often entitled to overtime pay. If you don't earn at least twice the minimum wage, your employer may have to pay you overtime. Or if you do a lot of the same work as hourly employees, you may be owed overtime pay.

Multiple allegations, class action suits pending
Allegations of overtime pay abuse have been raised against companies like Home Depot, Lowes, RadioShack, Best Buy, Circuit City, Target, Walgreens, Sams Club and Starbucks, to name a few.

In November 2005, the LA Times reported that the courts had approved class action status for a suit alleging
[Staples had "improperly classified both general and assistant store managers," denying them overtime pay. ]

Know your rights and remember, you are entitled to know. Do not let your employer intimidate you or tell you otherwise.

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