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A Guide Before You File a Wage Claim

Deciding to file a wage claim is a crucial step to getting the compensation that you have earned.

You’ve put a lot of time into your job and worked hard to earn your pay. When your employer denies you the pay owed, you deserve to have things made right and recover all unpaid wages including overtime that you have earned.

When you opt to file a claim to recover wages, you will benefit from being as well-informed as possible. You don’t have to accept being underpaid. We are here to assist you in recovering all money due you.

What Are Your Rights Regarding Overtime?

Your employer is obligated to pay overtime whenever you work more than 40 hours in a week. This is the legal requirement both under federal law (the FLSA) and state wage laws. An employer can legally deny you overtime pay only if your job qualifies as “exempt” from the overtime laws. The overtime exemptions are narrow and most employees do not meet any exemption. If you qualify for overtime pay, your employer must pay you overtime at 1.5 times your regular rate of pay which is your hourly pay rate plus any bonuses, shift differentials, commissions, etc.

Employers don’t have the ability to change these overtime requirements to suit their needs. Also, employers cannot make you agree to a special arrangement or enact a no-overtime policy. Instead, employers must follow the overtime laws.

Your employer must calculate your overtime based on a 40-hour workweek, regardless of the company’s pay schedule. Averaging hours over two or more weeks is not permissible.

Compensatory, or comp time, is a type of paid time off instead of overtime. Comp time in lieu of overtime pay is illegal unless your employer is a governmental agency. Other employers cannot legally provide employees comp time.

Employers sometimes prohibit employees from reporting overtime hours. However, such policies violate overtime rules. This means it is illegal for an employer to ask you to work off the clock such as working before or after your shift after clocking out, taking phone calls or responding to emails while not clocked in, and not paying for drive time once you start your work day.

Can You File a Wage Claim for Being Misclassified?

With many employers trying to reduce benefit and wage costs, many employees find themselves needing to file a wage claim because of misclassification. In many cases, this classification is designed to deny employees overtime and other benefits. The mere fact that your employer classifies you as not eligible for overtime pay does not mean it is true. The law controls; the employer’s classification does not control.

Exemption from overtime laws are narrow and generally do not apply to most employees. The overtime exemptions are based upon the employee’s job duties such as a manager (who actually manages two or more employees) or a doctor. Further, employers must pay employees a salary to qualify for an overtime exemption. Hourly employees must be paid overtime.

Contract employees, also known as independent contractors, are not covered under the same wage and tax laws as employees. Employers often classify workers into these categories because employers want to save money by not paying federal unemployment insurance, Medicare, or Social Security taxes for contract workers.

There are three main factors that determine whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor:

  • Do you receive benefits similar to an employee’s, like vacation pay, insurance or a pension plan?
  • Does the company set the payment method or other aspects of your work?
  • Does the company control how you perform your duties and what you do?

You may legally qualify for employee status if the employer essentially treats you like other employees and controls your work. If so, you could be owed important benefits and overtime pay. The misclassification of contract employees can be a complicated area so you should consult an employment attorney if you believe you are misclassified as a contract worker.

Are There Other Wage Practices That Could Violate Employment Laws?

In addition to hiring you as an independent contractor and not compensating you appropriately if treated as an employee, there are other common practices that may violate the law. One example is hiring you as a contingent employee and not compensating you properly.

Rounding your time down and up to 15-minute increments may violate the law if the rounding benefits the employer by shaving your time worked. Similarly, expecting you to work through unpaid meal periods, or not paying you for pre or post-shift work violates the wage laws. These are common violations that many employees don’t realize are possible problems.

Paying you a salary without overtime when you spend less than half your time managing hours may violate employment law. Your employer may also be violating the law if you receive a salary for being a working lead, assistant branch manager, or assistant manager without overtime. Again, you should contact us if you have any concerns about your pay in similar jobs.

If you feel that your employer has violated wage laws, Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC can help. Contact us today to determine if you should file a wage claim.