The Fair Labor Standards Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal labor law that for one, requires overtime pay to non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a week. All hours of work over 40 in a workweek must be paid at a rate not less than 1.5 times the regular rate of pay. Most importantly, under FLSA, you are guaranteed the right to be paid fairly.
Overview of exempt vs. non-exempt employees
The main difference between the two types of employees concerns overtime pay. Under the rules and regulations of the FLSA, exempt employees are not entitled to overtime pay. To qualify for exempt status, you must earn a minimum of $684 per week ($35,568 per year) generally paid in the form of a salary. However, in addition to earning a salary, you must also perform exempt job duties.
Be aware, just because you are paid a salary does not mean you are an exempt employee.
Non-exempt employees earn less than $684 per week ($35,568 per year), do not perform exempt job duties, or are paid by the hour. As a non-exempt employee, you are entitled to earn the federal minimum wage and qualify for overtime pay for every hour worked beyond 40 in a workweek. Remember, overtime should be paid at a rate no less than 1.5 times your regular hourly rate.
It is important to keep in mind that overtime wage law as it relates to exempt and non-exempt employees can be incredibly complicated and in certain situations not always cut and dry. We pride ourselves in our ability to navigate complex scenarios in federal and Texas overtime wage laws and encourage you to contact us to learn if you have a valid case.
Your overtime rights under FLSA
You have the right to sue a current or former employer who knowingly denied or unknowingly withheld your earned overtime wages. FLSA includes provisions for individual or groups of workers to file private lawsuits for unpaid overtime wages.
Under the law, when a company is found to be in violation of overtime wage laws, they are generally required to pay you double the amount of unpaid overtime wages. When a lawsuit is successful, the violating companies are often required to also pay your attorney’s fees and court costs on top of their overtime penalties.
Retaliation for unpaid overtime claims
Under FLSA, it is illegal for employers to fire, retaliate or discriminate against you when you file a claim to recover unpaid overtime wages. Judges enforcing overtime laws severely reprimand employers who retaliate against employees under these circumstances. If your employer does retaliate against you for filing an overtime claim, our law firm will take the extra steps to help you recover additional damages.
Types of workers most often denied overtime wages
Any employee can be denied rightful overtime pay. However, certain categories of employees more commonly lose out on being paid the hard-earned wages they deserve. These include:
Employers often try to avoid paying overtime by making you an “Independent Contractor.” Simply being a contract worker does not mean that you are not entitled to overtime pay. If you have agreed to be a contract worker or 1099 employee, you may still be entitled to overtime pay.
If an employer requires or pressures you to work “off-the-clock” before your shift to prepare for the workday (starting the computer, reading e-mails, preparing tools or equipment), work during an unpaid lunch period, post-shift to close out the workday (e.g. finalizing paperwork, sending reports), or work from home, you may be entitled to overtime pay for that time worked.
Many people believe that if you are paid a salary, you are not entitled to overtime. The truth is, many salaried employees are entitled to overtime pay even if they hold job title such as “manager,” “office manager” or, “administrative assistant”. Employees in these situations are most likely being misclassified for the shameful purpose of not paying them overtime. You are not automatically exempt from FLSA protections just because you receive a salary.
Day Rate Workers
Paying an employee a “day rate” or “daily rate” is very common, especially in Texas oilfields. However, when a Texas oilfield worker goes beyond 40 hours of work in a week, they are generally entitled to overtime pay even if they are paid a day rate.
How employers dodge paying overtime wages
Typically, employers will want to deny any claim workers make about being owed overtime pay. Often the employer will fabricate bizarre and deceitful tricks in order to not pay their employees their hard-earned overtime wages. The following examples are those most known to us:
Employers may average your hours over several weeks. Say you work 35 hours one week and 45 hours the following week. An employer could average your total hours and say that you worked 40 hours on average per week. However, by law, you deserve overtime pay for the second week.
Paying compensatory time
Employers could be paying compensatory time. Also called ‘comp time’, this just means that an employer will essentially give you the option to use your overtime for time off later. This is only legal in the public sector and if you’re being comped for your overtime, you may be entitled to unpaid wages.
Employers could be claiming to not know about your overtime. If this is the case, there is usually overwhelming evidence in your favor. If an employee wanted to hide the fact that they were working overtime, this would be difficult to disprove, but we find that this is rarely the case.
Your legal status
Employers could not be paying you if you’re an undocumented citizen. This is a slap in the face to any hardworking person in this country even if they do not hold a visa or citizen status. Employers are required by law to pay full wages and overtime to all employees, regardless of legal status.
Beneficial work time
Employers could claim that the overtime work couldn’t classify as beneficial work time. The courts have a good guideline on what they consider useful work time that would qualify as overtime. If the work is of a genuine benefit to the employer and they don’t intervene to stop you from continuing your work, or the employer knows or at least has a reason to believe that the work is being done, then the employer must pay you for your overtime work.
The benefits of working with our unpaid overtime attorney
If your employer is using any of the tactics mentioned above, or you feel you’re being schemed out of your overtime wages in other ways, we welcome the opportunity to help you recover the money you’re owed.
One major benefit of working with us is having a Board-Certified Labor and Employment Law attorney by your side. Less than 1% of Texas lawyers hold this certification and that makes a world of difference as you seek a fair settlement and the wages you’ve rightfully earned.
When you hire our law firm, you are sending a message to your employer that you won’t back down when they keep your wages. Our attorney will make sure that your voice is heard and not a dime of your money is left on the table.
When it comes to an employer’s wrongdoing, we have seen just about every example of it. Our approach starts and ends with your needs in mind. We firmly believe in fair wages for fair work, so we make it our mission to fight for employees who aren’t getting the earnings they deserve.
When to contact our unpaid overtime attorney
Leichter Law Firm PC offers free and private evaluations of your potential unpaid overtime claim. Therefore, there’s never a bad time to seek out our assistance. Call us at (833) OT-WAGES or send us a message via our contact form.