Recently, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Alvarado v. Dart Container Corporation of California. The Court’s decision changes the manner in which an employer must calculate overtime for employees who earn a flat sum bonus during a single pay period. Accordingly, based on the Court’s decision, this is yet another area where the rules in California differ from the federal rules. This decision is significant because it applies retroactively subject to the applicable statute of limitations.
By way of background, both state and federal laws require that amounts awarded as bonuses be included in determining a non-exempt employee’s overtime rate, except in the case of discretionary bonuses. This means that when the employee works overtime hours and receives a non-discretionary bonus, this bonus program will increase the non-exempt employee’s hourly rate for calculating overtime.