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Cement Giant on Hook for $1.51 Million in Unpaid Overtime

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Sacramento, CAA California overtime case that has its roots in Texas was settled just prior to the start of the New Year after the largest suppler of cement in the nation agreed to compensate well over a thousand current and former employees in eight states including California, for unpaid overtime wages.

Cemex will fork over $1.51 million. Overtime pay laws require employers to pay employees properly classified as qualifying for overtime wages, additional pay for hours worked beyond the standard work day and standard work week.

According to the December 31 edition of the El Paso Times, the US Labor Department launched an investigation following the filing of an overtime laws complaint stemming from Cemex operations in Tampa, Florida. According to reports, the Labor Department found that Cemex failed to extend overtime to so-called "pay-per-load" employees.

As a result of their findings in Tampa, Labor Department investigators expanded their probe to other states, including California, Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, North and South Carolina, and Texas.

The Labor Department filed an unpaid overtime complaint with the courts in September of 2008. On the second-last day of the year, the deal was cemented and it was announced that Cemex would agree to the massive settlement in order to facilitate compensation benefitting 1,705 current and former employees of Cemex who worked as ready-mix drivers for the firm.

Most employers have a love-hate relationship with overtime. While an overtime pay budget is established for the fiscal year, a company usually has no control whether or not that budget is met or exceeded according to supply and demand in concert with business operations. If an overtime budget is exceeded, then the firm winds up with a loss. In contrast, if an overtime budget winds up in surplus, funds can be carried forward into the new fiscal—but then, in hindsight, those funds not spent on overtime could have been used for more pressing needs during the course of the year.

Most employers will not wish to jeopardize operations in an attempt to keep within overtime budgets, opting instead to stiff employees or improperly classify employees as being ineligible.

California overtime law works in concert with federal statutes aimed at protecting workers rights. Regardless of whether it's a small employer or a large multi-state operator such as Cemex, overtime pay laws are brought to bear in favor of the disenfranchised worker. For this reason, workers' compensation settlements are always favored news amongst the labor community.


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