Failing to pay employees who are not otherwise exempt from overtime pay is illegal. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), any work time which exceeds 40 hours in a workweek is considered working overtime.
The overtime rate under the FLSA is 1.5 times the regular pay rate. However, employers try to find ways around these and other wage laws, which is why you likely need an employment attorney if you decide to pursue collecting your unpaid overtime.
When Are You Exempt from Being Paid Overtime?
The general rule is that all employees are entitled to overtime pay. Thus, an employer who refuses to pay employees overtime likely violates the FLSA and state law. However, there are circumstances under which an employer may legally not pay employees overtime. For example, employers are not legally required to pay exempt employees overtime. Employees qualify for an exemption based upon their pay and their job duties. Generally, employers must pay exempt employees a salary which exceeds $684 a week. The employee’s job duties must also meet an exemption test. This can be a complicated area of the law so you should consult an employment attorney if you believe your employer is misclassifying you as an exempt employee and you are really working as an hourly employee.
Likewise, independent contractors are also exempt from being paid overtime because they are not employees. As a contractor, you must have more control over your work, your work hours, and work schedule than a regular employee.
One important caveat is that some employers classify workers as independent contractors while treating them as employees. This violates the law. Such persons are entitled to unpaid overtime and employee benefits. Again, this is a situation where an attorney’s help is useful.
What Happens When Your Employer Doesn’t Pay You Overtime?
If your employer doesn’t pay you overtime, the employer could face some serious penalties. Your employer is liable for the unpaid overtime, double that amount for liquidated damages, interest, and attorney’s fees and costs.
What About Exempt Employees?
Under FLSA, employees must fit certain narrow criteria to be exempt. Salaried employees making $684 or more weekly are not legally entitled to overtime if their job duties meet the exemption test.
The most common overtime exemptions are the administrative, executive, and professional exemptions. The exemptions generally apply to upper level employees who supervise two or more employees and perform office based work, or have advanced degrees like a lawyer or doctor.
Some employers have tried to circumvent the law by paying low salaries. For example, many employers have designated lower level assistant managers as exempt even though they perform the same duties as hourly employees. Numerous assistant managers have recovered unpaid overtime in these cases.
Being Denied Overtime Pay is Often Illegal
Employees who work hard and fail to receive overtime payment are often the victims of wage theft. Employers will misclassify employees as exempt employees to save money by avoiding overtime pay.
Seeking legal advice is important if your employer refuses to pay overtime. Being as proactive as possible will help ensure that you get the overtime pay that you have earned and legally entitled to under the wage laws.
Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC handles all aspects of unpaid wages, including issues regarding overtime. Contact us today if you have any concerns about not receiving overtime payment.