The Rules of Unauthorized Overtime | Mann & Elias
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The Rules of Unauthorized Overtime

Wage and Hour Attorneys for Overtime Disputes

More companies are moving away from a strict 9 to 5 culture. As more office workers shift to a hybrid work schedule or work remotely entirely, monitoring hours has become even more important. In California non-exempt workers are entitled to federal minimum wage and qualify for overtime as long as their employer approves.

As a passionate employee, it’s crucial to understand that the hours you contribute on the job are not always welcomed. If your employer did not permit you to work beyond 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day, that is considered unauthorized overtime. It might not benefit you or the company in the long run if it becomes a habit without clarification.

This article clarifies what happens when an employee works beyond their schedule without approval.

The Way Overtime Works

Whether you work on call at a restaurant, in the office, or remote, exceeding 40 hours a week shouldn’t go unnoticed. A workday is considered a full 24-hour period. Employers usually provide a set schedule depending on when you start your day or begin your shift.

If you’re employed in California, you’re automatically considered non-exempt under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) unless specified by an employer. And overtime begins once you work over eight hours in one day.

If I worked overtime but wasn’t scheduled, do they still have to pay me overtime?

Employees who work additional shifts must get paid for it. Overtime should be reflected in your next paycheck or the subsequent check once you’ve addressed concerns with your employer. Keep in mind that you cannot withhold information about the additional hours you’ve worked. Employers have a legal right to know and refuse or approve overtime requests. Read on for a few examples:

  • The employer requested you to clock out of work before finishing a project or to clean up after closing time.
  • Managers task you with an assignment to complete first thing in the morning, requiring you to work offline.
  • Receiving or responding to work-related emails and messages after hours and on weekends.

Never let your employer trick you into working overtime without pay. It’s a common tactic many try to use. If this isn’t the first time you’ve experienced a situation like this, speak with a labor attorney for employees. We can hold them accountable before taking the necessary steps to get you compensated.

If I work unauthorized overtime is the employer obligated to pay for it?

According to §785.11 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must legally compensate employees for unauthorized overtime. Simply prohibiting an employee from working beyond 8 hours a day is not a reason to withhold pay. But employers can address their concerns and initiate penalties to avoid legal liability.

In most cases when the employee continues to work overtime, the employer can argue that they shouldn’t have to pay for unapproved hours. Be mindful that you could lose your job should you choose to continue ignoring company policies. The key difference between a regular firing and wrongful termination is whether it was justifiable. For instance, a judge would find an employer’s actions indefensible if there were signs of disparate treatment compared to other employees who’ve made similar mistakes at the worksite.

Why Do I Need Legal Help?

The time adds up when you are required to work another shift to get the job done or take a few minutes to complete tasks at the end of your workday. When employers have denied you the pay you’re entitled to, speak with our dedicated overtime dispute lawyers. We can review your situation and recommend the best course of action to protect your rights. It might require you to file a complaint with the nearest EEOC office or initiate a lawsuit later on.

About Mann & Elias

The Law Offices of Mann & Elias is an employment law firm that provides guidance and legal support for individuals facing issues in the workplace. We represent clients at every level of the state and federal court systems. While there are thousands of lawyers to choose from, we strongly believe our success is based on:

  • 50+ years of trial experience
  • Excellent advocacy skills
  • Intense preparation and research
  • Quality care

When your case is in our hands, we hope to minimize stress and concerns associated with work. For dedicated representation with no upfront fees, give us a call at 323-866-9564 or email


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