Felix, age 28, has been employed at a group home for seven years and usually works more than 50 hours per week. His employer told him that group homes don’t need to pay overtime and Felix believed him, up until a co-worker filed an overtime claim with the federal labor board.
“My employer owns three or four group homes and as far as I know, nobody was paid overtime,” says Felix. “Last year federal agents came to the group home where I work and went through records of all his employees. It’s a good thing he kept our time sheets - I am sure they surprised him.”
As a result of the federal labor board agents’ visit, Felix received $5,300 for overtime compensation from October 2012 until January 1, 2014. “The federal agent told me that if I want to get the rest of my overtime money I would have to file a claim with the state of California,” Felix explains. “And we were only paid time-and-a-half instead of double time, which we would get with a California overtime claim. I don’t know why my co-worker went to the federal government instead of the state.”
Felix is right: California overtime law requires employers to pay double time for each hour worked over 12 in a single day. Felix believes he is still owed about $20,000 in overtime pay for six years prior to October 2012. As well, employers who don’t follow California’s overtime pay laws can be fined an amount that would be much greater than the actual amount owed to an employee seeking back overtime pay wages owed. Under California law, when an employee is improperly classified as exempt from overtime pay, or is improperly paid, one violation of the California Labor Code can result in a number of wage violations.
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“My employer always promises raises but when I have asked him, he always has an excuse, usually that he can’t afford it right now,” says Felix, who has never had a raise.
Next up, Felix is going to call the California Labor Commission. “I did some research online and found out about double overtime and that every job is required to pay overtime in California, including group homes,” he says. “And in order to be a group home owner, you are required to take certain administrative classes that explain how much you have to pay in wages. So my employer has lied to me ever since I started working here. I was so naive to have believed him.”