Good evening and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I am very sorry to hear that you have not been paid overtime.
To answer your question, it is first necessary to understand that there are two separate ways you can pursue an overtime claim. You can either file a wage claim with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (the "DLSE"), or you can file a lawsuit in civil court.
The reason why I bring this to your attention is because the "limitations period" available in DLSE claims versus civil court claims is different. The DLSE can only go back three years from the date you file your claim. That means if you were to file a claim with the DLSE for unpaid overtime tomorrow, August 26th 2013, you'd only be able to collect unpaid overtime going back till August 26th, 2010.
If you file a lawsuit in civil court and you can argue that the failure to pay your overtime was "willful," you can go back an additional year. So, in civil court, you have the ability to go back all the way until August 2009.
Regretfully, regardless of what route you pursue your claim for unpaid overtime, you cannot go back beyond four years, so unfortunately not all of your unpaid overtime can be recouped.
One more point I want to bring to your attention is that if you file a lawsuit in civil court, you are entitled to attorney fees and costs if you prevail. This means the cost of hiring a lawyer to assist you with your claim in civil court should be nothing or close to nothing. DLSE claims are free to file and the DLSE will pursue the claim on your behalf, but you will have no entitlement to attorney fees if you go the DLSE route.
Under the circumstances and given that you want to go back the additional year, it would likely be wise to retain an attorney and file suit in civil court. CELA is a great resource for locating a local employment law attorney who can assist you with your claim. See here: http://www.cela.org/?page=4
Please do not hesitate
to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
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