The hours you work are the hours you are paid for. Whatever your boss is telling you, it really is that simple. If your employer isn’t paying you for your work time, you are not simply “doing the company a favor.” They’re stealing your wages. It was proven in a 2013 Ukiah, Calif. lawsuit where wages were stolen from 47 restaurant employees and it’s alleged to be happening nationwide at Chipotle.
Two notable wage theft cases
In the case against Chipotle, which has two locations in Long Beach, nearly 10,000 current and former employees charge that they worked additional hours after clocking out. Sometimes the manager would demand they work until their tasks were finished, even if they’d already worked an 8-hour day. Other times, the computer would automatically clock workers out after the restaurant had closed, even if they were still cleaning up. It was management’s job to fix timecards to show truthful hours, but they never did it.
In a similar story in Ukiah, employees at two restaurants regularly skipped breaks or worked extra hours but were paid for only 8-hour days or 40-hour weeks, ignoring federal and state overtime rules. In Ukiah, the 47 employees who filed charges brought their employer to court and won a $1.6 million verdict, including $189,250 in civil penalties. The Chipotle employees hope for their contended payment too.
You should be paid for your work
The Fair Labor Standards Act says that working over 40 hours in a week is overtime. While salaried employees are exempt from this rule, employers must pay hourly employees for any time beyond 40 hours at one-and-a-half the regular rate of pay. This means during a regular workweek as it’s set out on your timecard and not over the course of any given 7-day period.
While these examples are in food service, many employers ask for extra work to be done off the clock, including checking email, delivering a product or staying late to answer a phone call. All of these are part of your job and you deserve fair pay for any time you give to the company.
What to do if it happens to you
In the Ukiah case, some workers were paid in cash and never tracked their hours but, in the end, they were still rewarded for their work. At Chipotle, the company is said to have modified or faked time cards to show fewer hours.
Keeping accurate personal records of your hours is helpful and you should always watch your paycheck to make sure you’re paid for all your work. If you suspect that your checks don’t match the weekly timecards you’ve turned in, you need to act to make sure that no one is stealing from you.