SACRAMENTO - Are you working overtime at your job, and not getting paid for those extra hours? More workers nowadays are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to overtime, and many are not speaking up about it because they want to hold onto their jobs.
The reality is, the economy is still struggling, and in terms of the job market, it just hasn't been the same since the great recession. Employers had to cut back, and the employees who were lucky enough to keep their jobs had to pick up the slack. But where do you draw the line?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of overtime lawsuits jumped to nearly 12,000 last year and netted $140 million in overtime wages. That's up from about 9,000 cases and $100 million from the previous year.
There's more pressure for employees now to work more hours. They're also under pressure to 'help' their employers manage a tight budget. But in many cases, the employer often finds ways around the law, for example, by moving an employee to a position considered to be overtime exempt, and selling it to the employee as if it's a promotion.
And because of that, and fear of speaking out and losing a job, there seems to be a continuous deterioration of overtime protection. One of the people we talked to on the street in Davis says he has a friend who works long hours at a restaurant every week, and doesn't get paid for those hours, but just has to bite her lip.
"They're not giving her overtime benefits," says Nathan Temple. "Not at all, and what's she doing about that? Nothing. Because she wants to keep her job."
Ted Grosholz adds, "It's certainly a market where, with unemployment rates the way they are, rigged in such as way where employees are concerned with keeping their jobs, I think the circumstances certainly seem obvious, I think employees are much less willing than they were in the past to challenge overtime because of fear of losing their job.
Our viewers also sounded off about the issue on the News10 Facebook page.
Becca wrote, "I used to work for 2 major financial institutions and we were required to be there 15 minutes before our shift to open vaults or set up our cash drawer. When it came time to do time sheets, we weren't allowed to put that time down. There are not unions for every job."
Lisa wrote, "My daughter worked (at a Manteca restaurant) for four hours and didn't get lunch breaks or O.T. and they violated the work permits when she was under 18. She wouldn't speak up because they worked with her school schedule."
Clearly, employees are working harder, and not getting the money they deserve, however in a lot of cases, they are taking action.
Take GlaxoSmithKline for example; a pharmacuetical giant based in Britain. The U.S. Supreme Court is deciding on a lawsuit filed by two of the company's sales representatives who claim they were not paid 10 to 20 hours of overtime every week. If the court rules in their favor, it could cost the company billions of dollars and set a new standard for the pharmacuetical sales industry.
A ruling is expected in June.