California Overtime Law for Employees in Scientific Professions

California overtime law and labor law attorneys are having some success in recovering overtime pay for employees in several science-oriented professions. It is not uncommon for employees to think that they are not entitled to overtime because they are paid a higher wage and given a respected title. In many cases, however, this is simply not true. An employee is entitled to overtime unless he or she fits into an exemption from the law. These exemptions are not based on titles or pay levels, but on the actual work the employee does every day.

Employees who hold the titles of research scientist, research associate, research technician, laboratory technician, quality technician, laboratory analyst, or quality analyst may be able to claim California overtime pay. A closer look also reveals that employees need not have access to their time records to claim overtime. A governing case in California held that if the employer fails to maintain time records, the courts must rely on the reasonable testimony of the employee. Therefore, the burden for time keeping lies with the employer, not the employee.

Pharmaceutical and other related companies have long been misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime pay, when in fact, such employees are often entitled to overtime pay. In many of these jobs, employees exercise little independent judgment or independent discretion. When this is the case, unless another exemption or wage order applies, such employees will likely be entitled to California overtime pay.

If an employee in any of these positions has been illegally deprived of overtime pay, the employee may be able to go back as far as four years and collect unpaid overtime, interest, and possibly some penalties under certain circumstances. Moreover, California has a “one way” attorney fees clause in overtime cases. If the employees win the case, they are entitled to recover their attorney fees. The opposite is not true for the employer: The employer has to pay its own fees, even if it wins the case. The employees will never be repsonsible for paying the employer's attorney.

Companies in the industries that may employ these types of employees discussed in this article are:

Abbott Laboratories (ABT) Biogen Idec Inc (BIB) Exelixis, Inc. (EXEL) Pfizer, Inc. (PFE)
ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ACAD) BioMedica Genentech Prometheus Laboratories
Accumetrics Biosite Diagnostics Gen-Probe Incorporated (GPRO) Salk Institute
ADVENTRX Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ANX) Boston Scientific Corporation (BSX) Genomatica The Scripps Research Institute
Agilent Technologies, Inc. (A) BrainCells Genzyme Corporation (GENZ) Senomyx, Inc. (SNMX)
Alliance Pharmaceutical Corp. (ALLP) Burnham Institute Gmbh Sequel Pharmaceuticals
Allylix Cadence Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (CADX) Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (HALO) Sequenom, Inc. (SQNM)
Ambit Biosciences Calmune HUYA Bioscience International Siemens AG (SI)
Amgen Inc (AMGN), Carolus Therapeutics Ichor Medical Systems SRI/Surgical Express, Inc. (STRC)
Amira Pharmaceuticals Cato Research Inovio Biomedical Strategic Enzyme Applications
Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc (AMLN), Celgene Corporation (CELG) Invitrogen Tracon Pharmaceuticals
Anadys Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ANDS) Ceregene Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (LGND) Tragara Pharmaceuticals
AnaptysBio Charles River Laboratories International, Inc. (CRL) MabVax Therapeutics VentiRx Pharmaceuticals
Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ARNA) ChemDiv McGaw Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (VRTX)
Baxter International Inc. (BAX) Clinimetrics Mixture Sciences Vical Incorporated (VICL)
Beckman Coulter, Inc. (BEC) Conatus Pharmaceuticals MultiGEN Diagnostics Zacharon Pharmaceuticals
Becton Dickinson Cypress Bioscience, Inc. (CYPB) Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (NBIX)
BioAtla Elan Novartis AG (NVS)
Biocept Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) Ocera Therapeutics

If you think you may have been illegaly deprived of overtime pay, you should speak to an employment lawyer right away. There are statutues of limitations for bringing these types of claims, and you'll want to make sure that you meet the deadline for protecting your rights.

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