On the surface, overtime pay appears to be an easy topic to understand. After all, overtime seems to be as straightforward as any labor practice can get: you typically get paid at least one and one-half times your regular rate of pay for all the hours that you have worked over the basic 40-hour workweek.
However, in this day and age where incidents of wage theft are happening more often, you need to be equipped with the right information in case your employer denies you overtime pay. Claims of “wage theft” have risen at a substantial rate in the last decade, with officials from the federal and state labor departments saying that businesses have grown brazen in violating wage laws including refusing to pay overtime wages.
Before we discuss what steps you should take, let’s establish a baseline and define what overtime is.
Definition of Overtime
Federal law states that any time over 40 hours of work in a workweek shall be considered as overtime. Some states have additional overtime protections such as California which requires that any time worked over eight hours in a day shall be paid as overtime.
Federal regulations that govern overtime pay falls under the Fair Labor Standard Act or the FLSA. These rules, in turn, are overseen by the Department of Labor. These laws clearly define the rates, the penalties for employers that try to violate the law, as well as exceptions to the general rule that all employees receive overtime pay for working more than 40 hours in any week.
An employer who requires you work overtime is mandated by law to pay you premium pay for the overtime hours. However, some states have more complex overtime regulations like California, which mandates that employees receive double pay once they work more than 12 hours in one day.
Unfortunately, some unscrupulous employers try to use underhanded tactics to get out of paying you overtime pay. Whether it is saying that you are not entitled to overtime pay since you earn a salary, to asking to bring unfinished work home with you so they can work on this in your free time, these are but a few examples of the dirty tricks crooked employers can use to avoid paying overtime.
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take if you have reason to believe that you are being deprived of overtime pay. Read on to find out what these are:
1) Document everything
You should make sure to document all the hours that you worked. Take note of the times and dates, and most of all, keep this log outside of your work computer as your employer may easily gain access and alter these to your detriment.
2) File a complaint
With or without evidence of your work hours, you can file a complaint, either by mail or in person, at the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor. The complaint should have the following components:
- Your personal information such as name, address and contact information
- Your employer’s name, address, type of business as well as contact information
- Your job title and description
- Payment information including how much you are being paid, how often and the method with which you are being compensated
- A thorough description of the alleged discrepancies
- Timeline of violations
Once you file the complaint, the WHD would then assess all the information before conducting an investigation that could help you recover your back wages. You don’t have to worry about possible retribution from your employer as the law prohibits an employer from discriminating or firing an employee who participates in a legal proceeding under the FLSA.
Complaints can be filed by third parties on behalf of an employee who has been denied proper wages. If a third party is making the complaint, the WHD suggest preparing extra information beforehand. The downside to filing a WHD complaint is that the process is usually very slow and the WHD generally recovers less money for you than an employment attorney.
3) Get in touch with an employment attorney
To help make sure your pay rights are upheld, you should get assistance from employment attorneys that are experienced in wage, hour and overtime violations. If you have any concerns regarding overtime pay, do not hesitate to contact the Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC. Visit our website at https://www.rmlegalgroup.com/.