Employers must legally pay employees for all time worked. This legal requirement includes overtime which is all time worked over forty hours per week unless the state in which the employees who have more protective overtime rules. For example, California requires that employees receive overtime pay for working more than eight hours in a day and double pay if they work more than twelve hours per day. The only way an employer can avoid paying overtime is if the employees’ job duties qualify for an exemption to overtime payment. Most jobs do not qualify for any exemption. Thus, your employer must pay you for all of your overtime work at the applicable overtime rate.
Too often, employees are simply not aware that it is illegal for their employer not to pay them overtime. It really amounts to theft, and it happens far too often. If this is happening to you, you need to take a stand.
Unpaid Overtime: How to Recover It
Again, most all employees qualify for overtime payment. It is illegal for employers to have employees agree not to be paid overtime. It is, of course, illegal for employers not to pay overtime. Even a few hours here and there will add up, as the standard rate of pay for overtime is time and a half of your regular rate of pay. Here are a few things you can do if you are owed payments for overtime you have worked.
Keep Track of all Overtime Hours Worked
Even if you are new to the company, you should keep a record of all the time you work including your regular hours and your overtime hours. Even an hour here and there can really add up. Mark down all hours and claim them on your timesheet. You will then know if your employer is removing hours from your timesheet and/or paying your overtime hours at the wrong rate of pay. Also, it is illegal for employers to tell you not to include work hours in the timekeeping system. This is called “working off the clock” and is a common strategy employers use to avoid paying overtime.
Contact Management or Payroll
Before you take any further action, you should consider making sure the overtime non-payment wasn’t a mistake or oversight. If you feel comfortable, you can raise the non-payment to your manager and/or Human Resources. The response you receive (which may likely be no response at all) will tell you whether or not the non-payment was a mistake.
File a DOL Claim
If your employer fails to respond, a next step you can take is to file an unpaid wages claim with the Department of Labor (“DOL”). The DOL accepts unpaid wages claims and, in some cases, investigates them. Employees often have difficulty filing a DOL claim because the DOL is busy, understaffed, and confusing. The DOL also generally takes a long time to investigate unpaid wages claims and recover less than most private attorneys. Nonetheless, filing a DOL unpaid wages claim remains an option.
Obtain Legal Advice
Once you decide to make a claim for your unpaid overtime, you should reach out to an employment lawyer who has experience in unpaid wages claims. These attorneys are often free for the first consultation. They know the law and can advise you what to do next.
Getting Your Unpaid Overtime
If you win your case or the employer settles, you can recover your unpaid overtime and sometimes, liquidated damages, which are an amount in addition to your unpaid overtime. You can also recover your attorney’s fees and costs incurred to pursue your wage case. Often, unpaid wages attorneys work on a contingency basis which means that you do not pay anything to file a case.
If you have questions or need more advice trying to claim unpaid overtime, contact us here at Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC for help in pursuing your unpaid overtime. Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC routinely files unpaid wages cases in courts throughout the United States against some of the countries’ biggest employers.