Q: In an unpaid overtime case, when your law firm successfully gets an exempt employee properly reclassified as non-exempt, can what the employee recovers from their employer in terms of unpaid overtime and other damages be substantial?
They can be. The size of the recovery largely depends on how many hours of overtime the employee is working and how much they were getting paid, because that will determine how much in back wages they were supposed to be paid.
In addition to back wages, frequently we find that those cases usually come from former employees who are no longer able to work at the particular company that they worked at. When they are former employees we also bring claims for waiting-time penalties, which are equivalent to 30 days of unpaid wages.
We also get interest on the wages that were due, which can be significant, because California allows interest at the rate of ten percent on wages that are due.
Frequently, we will get meal and rest time compensation as well, because typically when someone is classified as an exempt manager, they don’t take meal breaks, and they don’t take rest periods, or if they do they are shortened. The break durations usually don’t comply with the law, so we would be able to get an extra hour or two of pay for each day that the person doesn’t get a meal break or a rest period.
Finally, in addition to the damages above, the company ends up having to pay for our attorney’s fees. In other words, if we have a client, and we go to trial, and we win, the client is not going to be out-of-pocket for attorney’s fees because the court is going to require the defendant to pay our fees.