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California Unpaid Overtime: Chevron Profits More than Gas

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Manteca, CA"Chevron is making so much money, I don't know why they don't abide by the minimum wage law," says Carol. "One cashier makes less than minimum wage ($7.75) and I get $9.50 per hour, but if you add up my unpaid overtime, that counts as a violation of the California overtime laws."

CashierCarol just started working as a supervisor at a Chevron gas station a few weeks ago. She is trained as an accountant but a lead cashier at Chevron was the only work she could find. "I was told it would be a 40-hour week with 30 minutes for lunch and two breaks, 10 minutes each," says Carol (not her real name, fearing retaliation by her boss). "In reality, especially as a supervisor, you clock out for lunch but you still have to deal with the cash register and vendors so you never get lunch. We are allowed to leave the station but there isn't really time to go anywhere—by the time you order food, there is no time to eat. So I bring my lunch to work.

I have no choice. There is always one supervisor for each shift who oversees two cashiers. If they have a problem I have to help; if the phone rings, I have to pick up. If I don't do anything I will get in trouble. I have been scolded for not taking a phone call during my lunch. I have also been scolded for coming in early, even though I didn't clock in. One time I came in early, before my scheduled shift, to make sure everything was clean and tidy for the inspector. I told my boss that I worked this ½ hour without clocking in, and he still got mad at me.

That day he was in a really foul mood: he found out that he had to go to court because people were working off the clock—without getting paid overtime-- and he got caught. My boss never comes straight out and says you have to work overtime but there is so much to do. If you work over 8 hours he'll freak out. He made it clear that he loses money if we work overtime."

So why would anyone work overtime if they aren't supposed to? Carol explains a typical scenario. "Our donut vendor stopped delivering because of high gas prices and we were stuck without any donuts one morning so I was called at home to pick up three dozen donuts from a store on my way to work, before my shift. The store didn't take debit cards so I had to go all the way to work, get money from the register, drive back to the donut store, drive back to Chevron and clock in. I ended up being five minutes late and I got in trouble for that.

I wrote a letter to the district manager, asking him to please change my time sheet, explaining about the donuts. He wouldn't change my time and I was told that I was not authorized to get donuts or get cash to do so. But my boss told me to! They are all friends—what could I do? The boss wouldn't stand up for me and my word doesn't count.

We are also owed overtime because we have to work after clocking out. Our shift actually ends 30 minutes prior to clocking out because in the last 30 minutes, I am counting the till and recording the cash into the computer. But if you aren't done in 30 minutes, you still have to get up and clock out and continue the paperwork. It takes me longer because I don't know this software, even though I have an accounting background. Nobody trained me on anything.

I have only worked here nine days but I have worked five days overtime already—guaranteed 30 minutes each day."

Carol says she will try to find another job, but she is a Fillipino and a single mum with four kids at home—when will she get the time to look for another job? You'd think that a multi-national company like Chevron would stand up and do the right thing and pay their employees' overtime. And the extra .25 per hour minimum wage. After all, they can afford it.

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