Employer must pay ACTUAL hours worked by employee
Jose Alvarado worked as a laborer for Timber Works Construction, Inc. in Santa Clara County. Alvarado claimed that the employer required them to sign two different documents. One document contained false hours worked (fewer hours than actually worked) and another document contained the correct hours worked by the employees.
The employees claimed that the employer used the records with longer hours for billing a government agency, a contractor, or others, for the actual hours worked by the laborers. However, the workers were paid only those hours that were contained on the other document that had the false, reduced number of hours worked. The employer told the employees that the lower amount of wages was all they were entitled to.
Alvarado sued the employer in a class action on behalf of himself and his coworkers to recover unpaid wages. Alvarado claimed that even though he and his co-workers worked over eight hours per day and over 40 hours per week, they were not paid overtime or double-time compensation. The employees also alleged that the company did not have a meal and rest period policy and the employees did not have uninterrupted meal periods.
California law mandates that employees must be paid for all “hours worked.” Hours worked means all time they are “suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.” When an employee spends time on activities that are controlled by and for the benefit of the employer, including all the time that the employee is required to be present at the workplace, this is “work hours.”
Employers are required to keep accurate records of hours worked. Time-shaving is a practice where employers alter the time records of employees in order to reduce their total hours worked, thus reducing employees’ wages. Time-shaving is illegal. Management is required to take reasonable steps to ensure that employees are paid for all hours worked.
In determining their work hours and the payment due to them, employees should not be deterred by words like “voluntary,” “unauthorized” or “unapproved.” Work performed voluntarily, or without authorization or approval, may still be compensable if the employer knows or should know work is being done and permits the employee to do it. Employers who accept the benefits of the work performed by its non-exempt employees must pay the wages due to the employees.
Employees who work beyond 8 hours per day are entitled to the overtime rate of 1½ times their regular rate. Those who work beyond 12 hours per day are entitled to twice their regular rate. If employees were not provided a meal or rest period, they should be paid an extra hour for any missed meal break, and another extra hour for any missed rest break.
Rather than continue to litigate the case, Alvarado and Timber Works reached a settlement. Timber Works agreed to pay $2,555,000 to settle the employees’ claims.
The Law Offices of C. Joe Sayas, Jr. welcomes inquiries about this topic. All inquiries are confidential and at no-cost. You can contact the office at (818) 291-0088 or visit www.joesayaslaw.com. [C. Joe Sayas, Jr., Esq. is an experienced trial attorney who has successfully recovered wages and other monetary damages for thousands of employees and consumers. He was named Top Labor & Employment Attorney in California by the Daily Journal, consistently selected as Super Lawyer by the Los Angeles Magazine, and is a Presidential Awardee for Outstanding Filipino Overseas in 2018.]