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California IT Overtime: What is the Limit?

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Sherman OaksAs most everyone working in IT knows, California IT overtime is just 'part of the job'. But where do you draw the line—50 hours? Sixty hours? Ariel works 60-plus hours if he adds up work performed at home (which should be included). "I just want to know where I stand regarding overtime compensation," says Ariel, who intends to seek legal help.

"I've been working at this company on and off for 9 years and when I was hired, there was a verbal commitment to work 45 hours a week, from 9am to 6pm," says Ariel (not his real name pending a lawsuit). "But my supervisor expected me to work 8.30 to 6.30, five days a week and I knew there would be no additional compensation if I worked over those hours." Ariel says this is common in IT, especially in the past few years when managers have been expected to work longer, with no overtime. "The hours have been creeping up, for all managers, and we've just accepted it," he adds.

IT Overtime"I'm always working, even when I get home," Ariel says. " I am expected to be on call 24/7 answering emails, phones, and I've done this for 5 years. I was under the impression that being exempt, it didn't matter how many hours you work. But I've been doing some research and I'm not sure if I am exempt.

I supervise 4 people but don't spend more than an hour a day doing so. I handle budgeting, attend executive meetings, and basically run the IT department. However, the majority of my work is not much different from the 4 people I supervise, such as supporting enterprise applications, disaster recovery and disaster preparedness. Most of what I do is upper level network security.

Retaliation
I recently read about employees at an IT company who were asked to work a Saturday every month for no pay and they started talking about suing the company; they were all terminated. Since that time, the entire group of people who still work there have been put on hourly wages. I think the same thing would happen to all employees in this company if we filed a complaint. I am afraid of retaliation. I don't even talk to my co-workers about the possibility of overtime pay because I'm afraid of losing my job, especially in this economic climate. I can't see too many jobs readily available.

I'm not sure what will happen if my employer finds out but I do want to know where I stand regarding overtime compensation. I have two issues with possible violations of the California labor law: after looking at California reclassification exemption, I don't believe that I should be an exempt employee. If that is the case, I am owed a lot of overtime. The average amount of hours I work a week are anywhere from 52-55 hours, not including working from home. If I added up all my time working, it would total more than 60 hours per week.

Family Life Suffers
I don't get to see my newborn girl very much; our family life has definitely suffered. I get home at 7pm or later and leave for work in the morning at 8am. And sometimes I have to work weekends--luckily not often. I'd much rather be with my family, but I've got work to do so my computer is first and foremost.

To be honest, I enjoy my work and I haven't thought of another career. I just wish my boundaries were established in a clear fashion."

READ ABOUT CALIFORNIA IT OVERTIME LAWSUITS

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