Working long hours can be tiring, but it can also mean increased income, especially for those who get paid an hourly rate. For some, the time and a half that employees can expect for overtime is necessary to support their families. So, what do you do if your employer is cheating you out of your overtime pay? The good news is that there are specific laws that protect an employee's right to be paid fair wages, including being paid for overtime.
Federal laws that guarantee fair wages
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides protection for U.S. employees and ensures that they are paid at least the federal minimum wage for all of the time they spend working. This same act also requires that employers pay their employees one and one-half times their hourly rate for any work performed in excess of forty hours a week. There are some exceptions to this requirement, but the rules for exemption are very specific.
Which type of employees are exempt from overtime pay requirements?
In order to be considered exempt from overtime pay, the employee must be paid an annual salary of no less than $23,600 and be considered an administrative, executive or professional employee. However, employees cannot arbitrarily label their employees under these categories. Instead, the specific job requirements for their position determine whether the employee is actually exempt from overtime compensation.
For example, to correctly be categorized as an administrative employee, you must primarily perform office work and provide administrative assistance directly to an executive of the company. Executives must actually spend the majority of their work hours managing other employees. Professional employees must have particular skill sets or have reached a certain level of education, such as doctors or lawyers.
Do I have a claim for unpaid overtime?
In order to circumvent the law, some employers misclassify employees as being exempt from the FLSA overtime laws, or pay the employees a salary instead of hourly wages. When workers do not receive the wages to which they are entitled, filing a lawsuit may be the only source of recovery. Many times, unpaid overtime claims are pursued as class action lawsuits (known as collective actions), which means, an entire class of people are allowed to sue the same employer at the same time. This is because, in cases like these, the violations are occurring company-wide and it is more efficient to prosecute the claims at the same time.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit under the FLSA?
The term "statute of limitation" refers to the time limit for filing certain types of claims. Under the FLSA, a lawsuit must be filed within two (2) years of the alleged violation. There is an exception, however, when there is evidence that the violations were committed willfully and intentionally. In those cases, the statute of limitations is three (3) years.
The law firm of Wrady & Michel, LLC, has experienced overtime attorneys who are ready to fight for wage earner's rights. If you feel you have been the deprived of overtime pay, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady & Michel, LLC, either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.