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Employee Afraid to Ask for California Overtime

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Seattle, WAThere isn't enough time in the day for Angie to discuss her California overtime issue, but Michael, her husband, can attest that her employer violated the California labor law. "Not once in more than two years she has worked for this realtor has my wife been paid overtime," said Michael, "and Angie always worked through lunch when she was in the office."

Angie was the bookkeeper and office manager for a real estate company with about 30 real estate agents—she was busy. She was also paid hourly so there is no question about whether or not she qualified as exempt. "Her boss always worked her overtime and never paid her for it; Angie was always afraid to ask for overtime pay for fear that she would get fired," explains Michael. "He would always call her after hours and have her work on the client files—about 100 in all—and at the beginning of every month, when the realtors had to be paid, she worked into the midnight hours.

"I have picked her up on dozens and dozens of occasions at crazy hours, like 9 o'clock at night because they were doing books or paying owners, or working with his accountant. She has logs and bank deposit times that show she worked after midnight from home. She had to do everything for this employer except find new properties. Barry, her boss, got fined for his shady dealings and right afterward, he fired Angie. Out of the blue, he lets her go. He laid her off on December 14, 2010, after a full day's work. I am a disabled Gulf War Vet and we have a sick little girl who has my asthma, severe allergies and chronic hives, and we depend on my wife's paycheck to survive.

"My wife was always scared to question him about overtime for fear of losing her job and she ended up losing it anyway. He even had the nerve to tell me, face-to-face, that because of the fine he was going to have to let her go and he needed someone who was more professional for the position. He never once told her that she couldn't do the job, and in fact, always complimented her on how well she is doing and how good she was for the company and him; my wife got along with everyone.

"He took advantage of my wife and worked her into the ground. He then has the nerve, just three days after firing her, to put a new ad on craigslist.com, looking for someone to do her same job but for a few dollars less an hour. So she was fired to save money, and I believe she knows too much about what he did with the accounts. I asked him why he had to fire her at Christmas and he said that he wanted to be able to give her two weeks pay. But what about the thousands and thousands he owes her in overtime compensation? Now Angie is pounding the pavement, looking for work."

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