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My boss did not pay me for my overtime hours and I just quit. What now?

Pasadena, CA |

I had a job as a waitress and often worked 8.25 or 8.5 hours in a day. The boss was extremely unprofessional and was always trying to get out of paying us what she owed, so I decided to quit. I thought it would be a good idea to review my paychecks and I realized I have not been getting paid for my overtime hours. My overtime hours were added to my total hours without a 1.5 rate adjustment. However, my supervisor had a conversation with me about cutting back my overtime hours because it was costing them money, which confuses me in hindsight. When I quit, my supervisor was irate and hostile and as a result I did not complete my two weeks notice (I hadn't signed a contract). However, my boss has my time cards, and without them I have no record of my hours. What can I do?

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Attorney answers 2


If you quit without notice, your employer has 72 hours to pay all outstanding wages including overtime compensation. It appears you were shorted on overtime being included at ordinary time but not "time and a half", The employer, once authorizing overtime, cannot ask you to "cut it back". You have many options to proceed and I will discuss briefly. Initially, write a letter to the employer requested the balance of the money due you. This may be enough to resolve it. If the employer refuses to pay up, you can either pursue the amount due through small claims court including the amount of overtime not paid and ask for a "waiting penalty" under California law. In an egregious case, the Court can award a "continuation of wages" up to 30 days as a penalty for the employer's bad faith refusal to pay. {That is why you wrote the letter and gave the employer the chance to make good. Bring your letter to court with you as well as all other records you have}. If you do not feel you wish to handle this matter yourself, you may contact a lawyer who will seek the unpaid compensation, the waiting penalty and statutory attorneys fees and costs. Finally, you may also seek assistance through the Labor Commissioner (the Department of Industrial Relations) who may pursue the matter on your behalf.

In any case, document your request, remain professional and follow through to enforce your rights. Good luck and good law.


As opposed to small claims court, you can pursue your action directly with the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement ("DLSE," see link below) by filing a complaint directly with DLSE and having a hearing through the DLSE. DLSE will assist you in the complaint process and schedule an informal hearing to attempt a settlement, and if that is not successful, scheduling a full evidentiary hearing. You have the burden of proof so ultimately it will be up to you to show that the overtime hours were worked and not compensated properly. It is urgent that you proceed quickly so evidence such as the time cards is not misplaced or destroyed. In my opinion, DLSE is a better option than small claims court for filing these claims.

The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of California. Responses are based solely on California law unless stated otherwise.