Senior woman eats lunch at retirement home

Caregivers are often overworked and underpaid.  Thankfully, California has enacted strong laws to protect caregivers and make it easier for them to recover unpaid overtime. Still, many caregivers don’t to pursue their claims.

Here are some of the most common concerns we hear from caregivers and the reasons why these concerns should not prevent caregivers from seeking the overtime compensation that is legally due.

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.

2. I Fear The Legal Process

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 Rehwald 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 saying so. 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.

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 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. 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 the 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 have clients 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 nine hours a day, or 45 hours a week, you should consult with Chaleff Rehwald 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, Employment Law Attorney as Chaleff Rehwald. Mr. Chaleff has been practicing employment law for over 22 years.  For a free and confidential consultation, call (818) 807-4168.