The employment contract that I signed specified that I work a maximum of 20 hours a week. For the past two years I've been scheduled more that, around 24-40 hours a week. Does this entitle me to additional compensation, such as overtime?
I've been scheduled more that, around 24-40 hours a week. Does this entitle me to additional compensation, such as overtime?
Yes. Section 1194 of the California Labor Code provides that:
Notwithstanding any agreement to work for a lesser wage, any employee receiving less than the legal minimum wage or the legal overtime compensation applicable to the employee is entitled to recover in a civil action the unpaid balance of the full amount of this minimum wage or overtime compensation, including interest thereon, reasonable attorney’s fees, and costs of suit.
The contractual maximum of 20 weekly hours is stricken/superseded every time (1) your employer schedules you in excess of 20 hours in a week and (2) you accept it. Thus, you could pursue the recovery of unpaid wages under two legal theories. One of them is the aforementioned statute, since your implied contract --pertaining to the excess of 20 weekly hours-- constitutes an agreement to work for a lesser wage than the legal minimum wage.
The other theory or claim under which you may proceed is breach of contract. Again, this refers to the implied agreements regarding any unpaid wages in excess of 20 weekly hours. Under this theory you would recover just the full wages (rather than only the minimum wage), whereas the statutory provision entitles you to reasonable attorney's fees.
You might want to get some acquaintance with the California Labor Code, since it describes how to proceed and might also touch on other issues which might be applicable to your situation (and not mentioned in your post).
If your matter is filed in court, there is always a chance that your case might be presided by some sick judge telling you in court that "The state loves insurance companies and it employers [...] and you have to [...] stay out of the way". But contract law and section 1194 of the Labor Code encompass what the law is in regard to your matter.
Edited to add (per A.fm.'s remark)
In case you are being paid for all the hours you work and your concern is only whether/when should your hourly wage be higher than the regular rate, the answer depends on whether your schedule meets any of the conditions listed in Section 510(a):
- any work in excess of eight hours in one workday;
- any work in excess of 40 hours in any one workweek (you mention having worked around 24-40, which suggests but is not conclusive that the threshold of 40 hours is not exceeded);
- the first eight hours worked on the seventh day of work in any one workweek;
- any work in excess of 12 hours in one day (entitling to twice the regular rate of pay);
- any work in excess of eight hours on any seventh day of a workweek (entitling to twice the regular rate of pay).