Over the past few years, the attorneys at CHALEFF REHWALD PETERSON (www.caregiverovertime.com) have had the honor of informing hundreds of caregivers about the specific overtime laws that protect them from being overworked and underpaid. Many of these caregivers decided to call us after seeing our Facebook posts and articles in Weekend Balita and the US Asian Post. These are some of our favorite calls to receive. And, as a result of these calls, we have been able to help numerous caregivers recover the overtime compensation they deserve.
We would have been able to help many more caregivers. But the truth is that some caregivers who have suffered wage theft, and been exploited by their employers, do not want to pursue their claims. We have recognized several common fears that prevent caregivers from taking action. If you have been thinking about making an overtime claim, or calling to get more information, please do not hesitate to call us. We want to hear from you.
In addition, this article may help you, because we address some of the more common concerns we hear from caregivers. The bottom line is that you should not let fear prevent you from learning more about your rights, or pursuing a claim for your unpaid overtime.
Here are some of the most common concerns we hear from caregivers and the reasons why these concerns should not prevent you from seeking the overtime compensation you deserve.
1. “I Feel Obligated To My Patient.”
By nature, caregivers are typically caring people. Many private employers take advantage of a caregiver’s compassionate nature and do not pay a fair wage. Many caregivers feel a sense of loyalty or obligation towards their employers that make them reluctant to pursue valid claims.
While these are noble sentiments, it does not change the fact that caregivers who are paid less than the legally required wages are victims of wage theft. In fact, many people who hire in-home caregivers are financially able to pay for caregiving services as required by law, but simply choose not to because they want to save money. We often see the children of elderly patients making efforts to preserve their own inheritance by taking advantage of caregivers. The truth is that the family members are obligated to ensure their loved ones are adequately cared for. It is not a caregiver’s obligation to provide care in exchange for a wage that is less than what the law requires.
2. “I Am Afraid Of The Court System And Having A Lawsuit.”
Many private employers refuse to pay caregivers overtime because they believe caregivers are unsophisticated and will not be able to file a legal claim. The legal process can be intimidating and confusing. But that is why the lawyers at CHALEFF REWALD PETERSON (www.caregiverovertime.com) are here to help. We know the law and stand ready to help.
3. “I Signed A Document Stating I Am An Independent Contractor.”
It is unlikely that an in-home caregiver is an independent contractor even if there is a signed a document that purports to identity them as a contractor. Still, it is common for private employers to try to convince caregivers they are independent contractors because it is much less costly and much more advantageous for them. The reality is that many private employers misclassify caregivers as independent contractors to avoid paying overtime and other employee benefits.
4. “I Did Not Pay Taxes on The Wages I Did Receive.”
While we recommend that our clients pay all taxes owed for the wages received, if a caregiver has not paid taxes on wages, the caregiver still has the legal right to seek the overtime wages due. It is the employer’s obligation to properly classify the employee and withhold state and federal income taxes. If this has not happened, the employer has also violated the law.
5. “I Do Not Have A Social Security Number.”
You do not need a social security number to recover overtime wages from your employer. If you succeed in your unpaid overtime claim, Chaleff Rehwald Peterson can help you get an ITIN that can be used to pay the taxes owed.
6. “I Am Concerned About Immigration Status.”
California law permits undocumented workers to recover unpaid overtime wages. In our experience, our undocumented clients have not suffered any serious adverse effect from presenting an overtime claim. While we cannot guarantee no problem will arise, we believe the benefit in recovering unpaid overtime outweighs the risk. Also, we have a relationship with an immigration attorney that can review and possibly assist with your specific immigration situation.
7. “I Do Not Want A Long Court Battle, and May Leave the Country.”
Most cases settle without going to court, and many cases settle within a matter of a few months to a year. We regularly help caregivers who return to their home countries while the case is ongoing and keep in contact with us via the phone and internet. Because the laws are so strong in favor of the caregiver, most employers seek an early settlement of claims.
If you are working as a caregiver and you are not paid overtime when working more than 9 hours a day, or 45 hours a week, you should consult with CHALEFF REHWALD PETERSON to discuss your rights. We are here to help.
With the penalties, interest, and attorneys fees allowed, claims often exceed $100,000 for 24-hour caregivers who have worked just one year. Even if you have only worked three to six months, you likely have a valuable claim.
Article written by Daniel Chaleff and Kevin Rehwald, Employment Law Attorneys as Chaleff Rehwald Peterson. For a free and confidential consultation, call (818) 807-4168. We also offer a 24- hour chat service on our website www.caregiverovertime.com/inhome