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Withholding Paychecks a Violation of California Overtime

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Van Nuys, CAJuan, age 18, has been working full-time since finishing high school to help support his family. He has asked why everyone in the warehouse has to wait up to three hours every Friday for their paychecks, which Juan believes is a violation of the California overtime law. But the answer is,
“If you don’t like it, you can quit.”


That answer is standard to many blue-collar workers, workers like Juan (not his real name for fear of retaliation) who are taken advantage of. Juan likes his job as assistant manager of a Greatwide warehouse, but it is the only job he has had problems with (the fourth job in his short working career), so he was torn between speaking out - Juan knows the company is violating California labor laws - or keeping his head down and mouth shut. But Juan feels responsible for some of his co-workers who don’t speak English.

“As assistant manager for a huge Greatwide warehouse, I make sure everyone is doing their job and make sure they are all safe,” Juan says. “Some repairmen (they repair the palettes) who can’t speak English come to me with their complaints and I feel frustrated because I can’t do anything about it, but we are all in the same situation.”

Juan says that about 100 warehouse employees have to wait for their paychecks. He clocks in at 5 am and clocks out at 3.30 pm, Friday through Monday. Not only do all the employees sometimes wait up to three hours after clocking out for their paychecks, no one is paid overtime. (No overtime pay for a regular schedule of not more than 10 hours per workday within a 40-hour workweek is required, according to ca.gov.) Clearly Juan and his co-workers are owed overtime pay, and the time they wait for their checks also constitutes overtime.

“The lady who issues our paychecks only shows up after 5:30 but we are off the clock at 3:30,” Juan explains. “I have talked to her about this problem but she always has an excuse: her car ran out of gas, her tire was flat, her radiator popped, and I am tired of this. I have only been working here a few months and every week I have to wait. Some workers have been here two years and tell me their checks have never been on time.”

Juan has complained to the manager but he says he cannot do anything about it. Juan has a bank account and the accounting department has his direct deposit information but Juan says they couldn’t be paid by direct deposit. “The lady told me that they changed banks, and then they changed the payroll, again more excuses. I have no idea what her problem is. As well, when I was hired, this lady told me I would get $10 per hour and $16.50 per hour overtime after 8 hours a day, but I never get it. Nobody gets overtime.

“A lot of people complain, but the lady just told us to call the labor board if we don’t like it. So I called the California labor board last week and left a message - I am still waiting. I asked the manager why we weren’t getting paid overtime; he said, ‘If you don’t like it, all you have to do is leave.’ But I am still working here because it is hard to find a job right now and I have to support my family - I give money to my parents.

“I believe Greatwide is taking advantage of all of us. I figure they owe me quite a few dollars but I haven’t added it up exactly because it just makes me mad. I am hopeful that an experienced labor law attorney will call me.”

On its website, Greatwide says it is “dedicated to developing long-term relationships with customers, employees and capacity providers. People are our primary assets.”

READ ABOUT CALIFORNIA OVERTIME LAWSUITS

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READER COMMENTS

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I am puzzled by the sentence in parenthesis in your fourth paragraph. Warehouse workers earn overtime at the same rate as most California employees; overtime for hours over 8 in any workday. The sentence makes reference to 10 hours. The only circumstance in which such an employee could be denied overtime when working a 10 hour day is when the employer and employees have gone through a required rule bound notice period and election for an Alternate Work Schedule.

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