For many employers, overtime is their worst nightmare. Not only does it mean that work stacked up enough that employees had to stay late. It also means they have to pay their employees time and a half instead of their usual wages. For penny-pinching companies that are worried about the bottom line, denying rightful overtime is an undue temptation. Which is why thousands of professionals every year find themselves seeking an overtime pay claims lawyer.

You have a right to your overtime. In fact, you’re required by law to be paid time and a half for any work you do over 40 hours a week even if you were willing to let it lie. And your employer is legally obligated to pay. Unfortunately, businesses that don’t want to pay overtime can find a dozen different ways to deny overtime pay. And it might require legal action to shake them out of their delusion that they are allowed to simply refuse to pay out.

Today, we’re here to take a close look at the six most common ways that shady employer deny overtime. If your situation matches any of these examples, then it’s time to call an overtime pay claims lawyer who can help you win your rightful pay. And potentially the rightful pay of your underpaid coworkers as well.

Your Employer Says They Didn’t Approve Your Overtime, So They Won’t Pay

In many industries, there’s an expectation that employees will do whatever it takes to meet deadlines and get projects finished. Whether you’re in software development or retail, there are many situations where it’s up to you to decide to work late or start out behind tomorrow morning. A lot of us would choose to work late, and in healthy workplaces, this is supported by the employer and overtime is gladly paid.

But if your employer is stingy with paychecks, they might have some kind of superficial overtime approval process where you have to get permission to work late as if you were taking a vacation day. And if you “overstep your bounds” by working overtime without permission, your employer *might* try to say that they won’t pay you because the extra hours weren’t approved.

Legally, they cannot do this. You are an hourly employee, you worked late, and employers are required by law to pay employees for any time worked. Including overtime, even if it hasn’t been approved. But if your employer is putting their foot down about payment, you may have to force the issue with legal action.

Your Employer Over-Scheduled You… But Now Say It’s a Mistake

Even worse is when your employer actually did ask you to stay late to finish a project. Or perhaps they simply put you on the schedule too many times and the hours stacked up to over 40. You showed up, you worked the extra hours you were scheduled for, and therefore you rightfully earned any hours that qualify for overtime pay.

But now your employer says it was a mistake. They didn’t mean to schedule you that much and you weren’t supposed to get any overtime. Maybe they’re even holding the person who did the scheduling accountable. Maybe not. Now your employer is offering to pay you for the hours normally. But surely you won’t force them to pay you overtime for one little scheduling mistake, right?

Wrong. Once again, you worked the hours. You worked over 40 hours in a week and are an hourly wage employee. So they owe you the overtime whether or not it was a mistake. And saying “Oops, our bad!” Doesn’t excuse them from the law or get you back those hours you worked.

Your Employer Has Misclassified You As Exempt to Avoid Overtime Pay

While the first two examples represent an employer who pinches pennies and can’t get their act together, there are also much more insidious and purposeful abuses of the overtime pay law. Some employers are highly aware that ‘exempt’ employees don’t have to be paid overtime. So anyone qualified as exempt can be over-worked for no additional pay. Not even hourly, because you must be salaried to be exempt.

Employers who use this “trick” are counting on you not knowing what exempt means. But to be ‘exempt’ from most employment laws has some very specific requirements. The first one is easy. They pay you a salary that is twice the minimum wage or more, based on an assumed 40-hour work week. But the second requirement is the kicker: You have to have a white-collar job with a lot of autonomy. The ability to choose how you do your tasks, to set your own schedule, and decide whether you work overtime.

If you’re being tasks and shift hours, or make less than twice the minimum wage weekly, your job doesn’t actually qualify as exempt and your employer is actually lying about your classification to avoid paying you any overtime. These employers have to be stopped with legal action because they are already trying to mistreat the law for their advantage. And your disadvantage.

Here at Aiman-Smith & Marcy, we work hard to defend the rights of employees in the face of manipulative and abusive employers. If your overtime is being denied through misclassification, scheduling chicanery, or pure spiteful withholding, we can help.

Contact us today for a consultation on your unique workplace situation.

Join us next time for the second half of this two-part article and three more common workplace circumstances where overtime may be denied unfairly and unlawfully.

[Continued in Part 2].

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986