Under California payroll law, Employees may estimate the number of hours they worked, and were not paid, if the employer has inadequate payroll records.In every jury trial, the jury is given an instruction on what the law is. If the employer has failed to keep accurate records of the hours that the employee works, or does not bring them to trial, the following jury instruction is read:
State law requires California employers to keep payroll records showing the hours worked by and wages paid to employees. If Defendants have not presented accurate information about the hours worked by the Plaintiff then your decision may be based upon a reasonable estimate of the hours worked, CACI 2703.
Hernandez v. Mendoza, 199 Cal.App.3d 721, 727-728, 245 Cal.Rptr. 36 (1988) is in accord with federal precedent and states:
Although the employee has the burden of proving that he performed work for which he was not compensated, public policy prohibits making that burden an impossible hurdle for the employee…’In such situation…and employee has carried out his burden if he proves that he has in fact performed work for which he was improperly compensated and if he produces sufficient evidence to show the amount and extent of that work as a matter of just and reasonable inference. The burden then shifts to the employer to come forward with evidence of the precise amount of work performed with evidence to negative the reasonableness of the inference to be drawn from the employee’s evidence. if the employer fails to produce such evidence, the court may then award damages to the employee, even though the result be only approximate.’
Do not be afraid to file a lawsuit for unpaid wages, including overtime, if you or your employer do not have completely accurate records of the times you worked such as through time cards. However, do not exaggerate your claims of hours worked.
If you have questions about whether you should be paid when you work a twenty four hour, or shorter shift, please feel free to contact us at 1-877-525-0700.