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A Twisted Case of California Overtime Pay

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Porterville, CAWhile it may not necessarily mirror the typical violation of overtime pay laws, a criminal investigation involving the alleged embezzlement of thousands of dollars worth of California overtime acquired through fraudulent means has been traversing a unique road.

This particular overtime pay debacle, according to a summary appearing June 15 in the Porterville Recorder, has its beginnings with an investigation launched in March of 2009. Jeff Lewis Bradley, a Porterville Developmental Center officer employed by the California-based facility, is alleged to have aided coworker Scott Anthony Gardner in collecting $121,511 in overtime pay by knowingly approving fraudulent overtime slips.

According to the Recorder, in April of that year Bradley was asked to hand over documents crucial to the case. At the time, according to Bradley, he was promised confidentiality by Patricia Flannery, identified as the Department of Developmental Service's deputy director.

Then in June of that year, Flannery was asked by a superior if the documents could be turned over to the Porterville police. Flannery, it has been reported, agreed—in so doing, according to the report, violating Bradley's rights under the Fifth Amendment.

Bradley was charged in the alleged California overtime law scheme with three felony counts of embezzlement of public funds and grand theft. Gardner was charged with five felony counts of embezzlement of public funds and grand theft. They each pleaded not guilty May 19 of last year, in Tulare County Superior Court.

The criminal case has since been tossed out in view of how the evidence in the case was collected. And now Bradley has since launched a federal civil rights lawsuit against the three state employees who were involved in his case.

The plaintiff is suing for fees and costs associated with defending the aforementioned criminal case, and the cost of his bond; he is also seeking punitive damages against two of the three defendants.

California overtime law is clear as to whom is owed overtime pay for hours worked above and beyond a certain maximum during any given day or any given week. Often, an employer will try to shirk his responsibilities by improperly classifying an employee.

This is where unpaid overtime, and the legal framework designed to ensure its provision, usually come into play.

But just as reprehensible—if proven true—is the claiming of overtime fraudulently. Here is where criminal law, when applicable, circumvents California overtime law. In either case, the intent is to prove a violation has occurred and to bring the guilty party to justice.

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