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California Overtime: Work Visas Held as Ransom

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Irvine, CAFor the past three years, Gavinder has worked 45 hours per week but his IT company has never paid him overtime. Adding insult to injury, the company bills 45 hours a week of his time worked to their client—a tidy profit for the company.

"My company sends me to the client where I work 45 hours every week but they have never paid me more than 40 hours," says Gavinder (not his real name). "The client approves my timesheet for 45 hours and the client also told me that they are paying my company 45 hours of my time. But my company says that I am exempt.

Overtime worker"I should not be exempt - it is just a loophole in the law and the company is taking advantage of that. When I spoke to my employer they said I am not entitled to get overtime, even if I work 50 hours.

I'm not the only one who is being treated this way. I came here from India on a work visa and they are taking advantage of other employees from India. And we are being discriminated against—they are paying green card holders and permanent citizens overtime because my co-worker told me he gets overtime after 40 hours for the same type of job that I do.

I came here from India about six years ago; I was sponsored by a different IT company and went through a work visa transfer process to work for this tech company. They promised me verbally that I would get overtime and gave me a standard employment letter which does not say anything about being exempt. And right from the beginning they said I wouldn't ever have to work more than 40 hours a week. Almost immediately I worked 45 hours and they said, 'Don't worry, we will pay you overtime but it is going to take some time to fix our payroll system which does not give overtime to work visa employees.' That was two years ago.

They know I don't have much flexibility to change employers so they are misusing our circumstances. Others are scared to even question them about overtime. This company hires a lot of people from India and it is really unfair—we are frustrated and don't know what to do. HR doesn't even respond to my phone calls or emails anymore.

Just a few weeks ago, I reminded them again I still haven't received compensation but again, they are not responding. I am currently looking around for another job but I am angry that I have lost three years of overtime. I calculated that they owe me about $100,000 so you can understand how reluctant I am to leave. Even if I get a job somewhere else, I still need to get compensated.

If something comes about through legal action with my case, I know that others in the company will follow suit. A number of them have already left in frustration but we are still in touch—they are also from India. This company thinks they can get away with not paying overtime to any of us because our work visas hold us ransom. It is unfair.

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California Overtime Legal Help

If you work in California and you feel that you are owed overtime pay, please contact a lawyer involved in a possible [California Overtime Lawsuit] who will review your case at no cost or obligation.

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