updated - March 5, 2021 Friday EST
Unpaid overtime issues are a result of employers failing to recognize federal laws and not paying hourly employees for work done.
If an employee has worked more than the 40-hour limit, the time worked above the hourly threshold has to be paid at a one-and-a-half-rate of the regular hour wage. This hourly wage is a predetermined wage, either through a contract or offer letter, in which the amount has been agreed upon or is according to the state's minimum wage result.
In practice, many employees work more than a 40-hour workweek.
Although most workers are usually aware that they work overtime, employees often do not understand the legal requirements. Employers take advantage of the ignorance of employees. They do not compensate employees adequately for their overtime or do not even inform their employees of their rights.
If you do not receive payment for overtime working hours, discuss the case with an experienced attorney. Only legal experts can help you to resolve issues of unpaid overtime and take action.
Sometimes employers do not have to pay out overtime. Hence, you should be acquainted with the laws of the state.
In many states, some professions are exempted from overtime laws. For example, in some states, people employed in bona fide administrative, professional, executive, or sales jobs are an exception. Even though these exceptions are narrow, do not assume that you do not qualify.
Employers use some common tricks to cheat their workers out of overtime pay. Noted below are red flags to watch out for:
If the employers change the workweek definition, it is a sign. When you begin working, the workweek might be Monday to Friday, only to change from Wednesday to Tuesday. Employers do this only to avoid paying overtime.
If the employer averages hours worked across two or more weeks, watch out. This is an illegal practice.
Your employer may give you comp time instead of overtime pay. What is comp time? It is extra hours off as personal time or vacation. This practice is permitted only in some circumstances.
The employer may change job classification to evade overtime pay. They usually do this to wedge employers into one of the exceptions to overtime laws.
The employer may miscalculate the base rate of your pay. This way, they try to pay less than your overtime due.
There can be many other ways to avoid overtime payment.
State and federal laws are very strict when it comes to wage theft. However, you must maintain records. Keep all pay stubs and get a copy of your timesheet. In case you do not have a timesheet, maintain a detailed record of the hours of work.
If you want to take legal action regarding issues of unpaid overtime, this would help your lawyer too.
If you are unhappy with your employer and overtime payment, there are options. For instance, you can file a wage and hour complaint with the federal Department of Labour or an equivalent office.
Unpaid overtime is a practical issue. However, today there are legal solutions. If you take the legal path, you can protect your rights.
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