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Are Employees Always Entitled to Overtime Pay?

There are many situations where employers might commit mistakes or even intentionally try to deny overtime pay. This is against the law because employees must receive overtime premiums whenever their weekly work hours necessitate it.

There are exceptions to overtime eligibility (exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act, “FLSA”) which focus on the job duties the employees perform. However, all workers are legally entitled to overtime pay unless one of the narrow overtime exemptions applies. In this post, we’ll clarify the distinction between exempt and non-exempt employees, and explain how employees are entitled to overtime money.

The Rules Governing Overtime Pay in the U.S.

What is the difference between the types of workers who are exempt or non-exempt from the FLSA? Why does that even matter? According to the FLSA and various state wage laws, exempt employees, who are not legally entitled to be paid overtime premiums, perform primarily managerial, professional, or administrative jobs. These jobs are usually paid salaries which means that these employees receive the same amount of pay each week no matter how many hours they work that week. These employees often work more than 40 hours per week. These employees usually do not receive additional compensation unless it’s part of a bonus program.

Non-exempt employees must legally be paid overtime premiums. They typically work for an hourly wage, which may or may not include physically demanding work. The purpose of the FLSA is to protect hourly workers from experiencing exhaustion from too much work without additional compensation.

When It Becomes Overtime Premium

The 40-hour threshold is important because once a non-exempt worker crosses that weekly threshold, they must receive additional compensation. Employers must award them 1.5 times their regular rate of pay. This includes an employee’s usual hourly rate, and any bonuses and shift differentials. For example, a worker who normally earns a pay rate of $15 per hour would earn $22.50 ($15 times 1.5) for every hour worked beyond the 40-hour mark.

In some states, the law goes even further to include daily overtime. Employees in those areas can earn a premium any time they reach work beyond nine-eight hours of work each day. In California, for example, the wage laws require “double time” (pay of twice an employee’s regular rate of pay) for working beyond a 12-hour shift.

As you can see, there are many laws governing overtime at both the state and federal levels. Be assured, however, that employers generally know these laws, so ignorance is not an excuse on their part. You should also be familiar enough with the wage laws to know when your employer is violating the law with your pay.

Examples of Bad Practices by Employers

To make matters even worse, unpaid overtime isn’t the only way employers underpay their employees. We regularly encounter employers who do things like:

  • Make illegal paycheck deductions.
  • Mandate their best line workers accept jobs as “assistant managers.” Employers give them a salary, only to assign them very heavy levels of overtime work.
  • Fail to pay for lunches and breaks when they’re legally required.
  • Pay less than the minimum wage.
  • Fail to do payroll accurately, especially when over-relying on faulty time cards (all electronic time keeping requires managerial review).

Stop Tolerating Unpaid Overtime Pay

Since there are lots of ways employers attempt to work around overtime rules, we recommend educating yourself on this matter. Especially if you’re tired of unpaid overtime, we encourage you to obtain our assistance. You don’t always need to take your boss or employer to court, but you might need a strong employment lawyer to help negotiate a settlement or resolution.

Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC Defends You in Overtime Disputes

Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC represents employees regarding overtime violations and unpaid wage claims. We help many frustrated, hard-working Americans who have failed to receive the wages they have lawfully earned. If you think you have been underpaid, you should at least get a second opinion from an employment law professional.

Please contact us for a free consultation if you believe your employer has underpaid you in any way.