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What can I do if the company is altering my time records?

Altered time records - Falsified time cards - A how to guide on what you can do if the company is altering your time records

Altered time records - Falsified time cards - A how to guide on what you can do if the company is altering your time records

When you Google “falsified time records” or “altered time records,” you’ll mostly get articles on how employees falsify time records.

That’s not what we’re talking about here. In this article, we discuss the company / employer falsifying your time records. The employer altering time records. This is also called time-shavingIt happens a lot more than you might think.
 
Make no mistake about it. We’re talking about your MONEY. Your WAGES.  It’s theft. You steal from the company and you go to jail.  The company steals from you and they call it a “wage and hour lawsuit.”
 
It sucks. But, I’m not about crying for the sake of crying. I’m all about getting your hard earned wages that you rightfully earned back in your wallet. Where it belongs.
 
 

Why is Bill Turley asked to testify concerning wage law legislation at the California State Senate and the California Assembly?

Bill Turley - testifies on PAGA laws - What are my right to seating at work?

A No B.S. straight-shooter lawyer

Believe it or not, Bill Turley is known for being a no B.S. straight-up lawyer. Besides being known as one of the leading experts on this area of the law in California, one of the reasons why Bill is asked to testify at legislature hearings is because he is known for being straight-forward and blunt. He is known for being no B.S., with no lawyer-talk, no double-talk.
 


What can I do if I suspect the company is altering my time records?

First of all, if this is happening to you (or has happened to you with a former employer); don’t think that you can’t do anything about it. Because there is lots that can be done.
 
If you work in California, then California’s strict wage laws will not only protect you, but also provide you with powerful penalties/ wages. I explain there penalties and wages later in this article. If you work outside of California, you can bring a wage claim under the FLSA. However, federal wage law doesn't protect workers near as much as California law does.  
 
If you still work at the company, I suggest that you start tracking your time in order to compare your pay stub with your actual hours worked. Under California law, your employer must state the total regular hours worked and overtime hours worked on your pay stub for each pay period. You can compare these hours with the hours that you actually worked. 
 
 
 
The webpage discusses the federal wage law/ FLSA. You should remember, that California wage laws protect workers much more than federal wage law.   
 

How can I enforce my rights (get my wages) if the company is altering my time records? 

There are five ways to bring a wage claim in California.

  1. An individual wage lawsuit
  2. An unpaid wages class action lawsuit
  3. A wages arbitration claim
  4. A PAGA Lawsuit
  5. A claim with the California Labor Commissioners Office

I discuss these various options, in more depth in this article about employers not paying employees in California

In a nutshell, I will tackle the pros and cons of each of these ways to bring a wage claim in California.  

If you can bring a wage class action case, this is oftentimes your best option. However, you will need a medium size company or larger in order to make this a valid option.  If there is an arbitration clause, then a PAGA lawsuit may be your best option. 

The last place you want to be is in a wages arbitration claim. You will have little chance for success, because the deck is usually stacked against workers in arbitration cases. 

There are very few lawyers that will agree to take an individual wage lawsuit. This is because the time and expense in bringing the case, usually don't justify bringing the individual wage lawsuit. 

Claims with the California Labor Commissioner's Office are extremely slow. And they are extremely understaffed. Even if you "win" your wage claim the employer can, in effect, appeal the decision and you will end up in the Superior Court and you will need an attorney to represent you there. 

This is why I suggest you consult with a seasoned wage lawyer as soon as you suspect that you may have a wage claim. 
         

Getting my wage case settlement check!

Getting my wage case settlement check!!!

How do companies change, falsify and/or alter time records in order to take time worked away from employees?

This happens in a variety of ways. Here are some examples of what we have seen over the years:
 

1.  Supervisors that delete time from the timekeeping program.

There is intense pressure at companies to earn money. Companies are judged by how they do each quarter.  Sometimes, managers and company executives jobs may be on the line. Not to justify it - because you can’t justify stealing employees wages. Just explaining it.
 
So the company managers go into the timekeeping program and delete 15 minutes here or an hour there. Sometimes, even more. If they do this for many employees, for each pay period, it can really start to add up.
 
This is why I suggest that you use your phone to document your time worked. Or write down when you start and stop work and when you take lunch breaks. This is in order for you to see if the company is time shaving from you.
 


2.  Your not paid for time after you clock in and before your start time

Oftentimes companies will not pay for time when you’re clocked in, but before your shift is scheduled to start.
 
In one case we had last year, drivers for a large grocery company chain was telling workers that they had to clock in early in order to get their shift assignment. So they would clock in 5 -10 minutes before the start of their shifts. However, the company wouldn’t pay them until the shift started.
 
When we took the deposition (testimony with a court reporter under oath), the company representative first denied that it occurred. Then we walked him through the time records and he was literally caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Or more accurately, with the company’s hands in the workers wallets.
 
This can be as little as 1-2 minutes a day. This is different from “off the clock” work. Because, here, you’re actually clocked in, but not getting paid for the time.

Audit trails, meta data, and forensics Computers and time keeping programs record huge amounts of information about user activities that are useful, if not determinative, in proving time shaving. For example, you can perform a audit trail in most timekeeping systems to track edits to employee time records.

The good part of this is that almost all timekeeping programs document when time is adjusted, altered, and/or changed. Thus, forensic timekeeping experts can almost always prove that the time shaving occurred.
 
Here is a good article on getting paid for all time worked.


Other common ways companies don’t pay for all time that you work

1. Not paying for time while you are walking to your work station and/or while you’re logging onto your computer

I regularly see cases where workers have to walk 2-5 minutes after they enter the work site in order to clock in. This is illegal under California law.
 
In the Troester California Supreme Court case the court ruled that time spent after clocking out, walking to the alarm, setting the alarm and then locking the front door - even if it’s 2 minutes - is work time that the employer must pay you for. In the Troester case, 40% of the unpaid time spent walking. Troester v. Starbucks Corp., 5 Cal. 5th 829, 847 (2018).
 
Or cases where the employees have to spend 2-5 (to eve 10-15 minutes) logging onto the company computer before they are allowed to “clock-in.”  This is also illegal under California law.  If this happens to you, I suggest that you click on these links in order to learn more.
 
 

2.  Security lines

In the recent Ninth Circuit case, the court held that waiting even seconds in security lines is work time that the employer must pay you for. 
 
In the Nike case, the employer (Nike) required employees to undergo exit inspections anytime the employees left the store at the end of their shift or for a break. The mandatory checks varied in length depending on the circumstances, but they always occurred while the employee was clocked out, and the time was uncompensated. Sometimes the mandatory checks lasted for only seconds. Rodriguez v. Nike Retail Servs., 928 F.3d 810, 817 (2019).
 
Under these facts, the Ninth Circuit held that Nike must compensate the employees for this regular work time. Rodriguez v. Nike Retail Servs., 928 F.3d 810, 817 (2019).
 
 
 

3.  Time spent waiting for equipment repairs

Some companies will deduct time that employees spend waiting for repairs to equipment that is necessary for work.  This is illegal under California wage law.
 

4.  Time spent waiting for materials

Some companies will deduct time that employees spend waiting for materials that is necessary for your work. This is also illegal under California law.

5.  Time spent traveling between work sites

Once you report to work to start your day, the employer must pay you for all the time that it takes you to travel to different work sites under California law.

6.  On-call time

In many, if not most circumstances, on-call time must be paid for under California law. Or, at the minimum, the employer must pay you reporting time pay.

7.  Auto-deducting of meal periods

Many employers auto-deduct meal periods.  Auto-deduct is illegal under California law.

8.  Deducting meal period time

9.  Expecting employees to read work emails while they aren’t clocked in

If the company sends you work emails to your private email account, then you should be getting paid for checking and/or reading work emails while you’re not clocked in.
 
In a recent case the employer would send “policy” emails to workers 1-2 times a month and the workers would have to acknowledge that they read the “policy” emails.  Under California law, you must be paid for this time.
 
And your employer must reimburse you for the use of your personal phone or computer to read the work emails.

10.  Sending texts to your personal phone

We have see cases where the supervisor will text employees on days or time that the employee is “off” in order to ask questions, etc.  You must be getting paid for this time.

What can you do if you suspect the company is altering your time records?

First of all, if this is happening to you (or has happened to you with a former employer); don’t think that you can’t do anything about it. Because there is lots that can be done.
 
If you work in California, then California’s strict wage laws will not only protect you, but also provide you with powerful penalties/ wages. I explain there penalties and wages later in this article.
 
If you still work at the company, I suggest that you start tracking your time in order to compare your pay stub with your actual hours worked.
 
Under California law, your employer must start the total regular hours worked and overtime hours worked on your pay stub for each pay period. You can compare these hours with the hours that you actually worked. 
 

Questions or if you need help right now?


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This article isn't legal advice
 
These discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. These testimonials, endorsements, photos and/or discussions do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation. Every case is different. There are any number of reasons why class actions are not certified, not won and/or PAGA actions are not successful.
 
Just because we have gotten great results in so many other unpaid wage cases, doesn't guarantee in particular result in other cases. Including, your wage case. Every case is different. In other words, your mileage may vary.
William Turley
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“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”