How might a California employer try to get out of overtime?

Although it is not unheard of, very few employers in the San Diego area would flat out refuse to pay an employee overtime after admitting the employer owes it.

Instead, most employers would try some common tricks to reduce their bottom line at their workers’ expense by not paying overtime.

Of course, employers do have the option to legally keep overtime wages down by scheduling employees so no one works more than 40 hours a week. They also may require workers who are on the clock to be productive.

However, they may not pressure employees to do off-the-clock work, even if the work is to correct a mistake the employee made or is part of an employee’s basic job duties. Basically, if an employer asks an employee to do a task, an hourly employee is entitled to payment.

Job misclassification is another common way employers avoid overtime

Employers may also avoid overtime by misclassifying their workers. There are two basic ways employers can misclassify a worker.

Sometimes, the employer may wrongfully say that the worker is an independent contractor and thus entitled to be paid an agreed price by the job. The agreed price need not average out to the minimum wage and certainly does not have to include overtime.

In other cases, the employer may declare an employee exempt from overtime and pay the employee a flat salary. Again, even if the salary seems generous, depending on hour worked, it could wind up averaging below the minimum wage.

California’s rules about when an employer in this state can claim an employee exempt are strict and, in many ways, broader than federal laws. Just because an employer pays a salary does not mean that the employee should assume he or she is exempt from overtime pay.

Employers may try other unlawful techniques to avoid paying overtime. A California worker who feel he or she has not been paid overtime to which he or she is entitled may be able to receive compensation in addition to the amount they are owed.