Depending on where they work, some California employees may find themselves staying later or working longer hours than they were originally scheduled to. If this work is unpaid or does not count towards overtime, it could potentially be illegal. Although there are a few exceptions, employers are responsible for paying their workers overtime if those workers work longer than 40 hours a week.

The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes overtime, minimum wage and other protections for the majority of workers. Unless the worker is exempt from the FLSA, the employer is legally required to pay him or her for all of the hours that he or she worked. Those who are exempt from the FLSA are administrative, executive and professional workers who are employed in certain industries. Those working on commission-based sales or who are involved in farm work may also be exempt.

If it is determined that a worker who is not exempt from the FLSA completed off the clock work, the employee can file a complaint with the Department of Labor. In some cases, the employee could recover up to three years’ worth of back pay that is owed by the employer. Depending on circumstances, the employee could potentially even earn up to double the back pay that is owed and be compensated for attorney’s fees.

There are several reasons employees might be paid less than what they are owed. If they are required to work off the clock, for example, there is a chance that the employer has wrongly classified them as being exempt from the FLSA. However, the reduced pay may also be due to discrimination or other factors. If an employee has done all possible to fix the pay issue, an attorney may assist with filing an unpaid overtime claim to seek compensation for back pay.