Groups » Do You Work Overtime? Read On to Know About Unpaid Overtime Claim

Dedication is one of the most commended virtues in an employee. Businesses prefer to hire hardworking and dedicated people, as they can increase efficiency and profitability of the company. This turns into a cyclical process, as an increasing number of people strive to work harder to secure a hefty paycheck.

Sometimes, working hard can make you push your boundaries without realizing that you have been putting in more number of hours at work than you are paid for.

With the economy going through a difficult time, it is common for employers to try and get more labor for lesser money. While doing so, they end up illegally withholding overtime wages or regular wages from employees who work extra hours. Working weekends or staying back until late night may not always be remunerated by all employers. It is considered to be a matter of agreement between them and the employees.

A renowned employment lawyer in Orlando expressed his concerns about unpaid overtime cases and said, “Many people are not aware that as an hourly employee, you are entitled to overtime payments for any hours worked over 40 hours weekly, including the time spent waiting to clock in, working at home, being on call, or working during your meal breaks.”

In fact, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law which governs employee rights. It looks into minimum wages, overtime pay eligibility, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments. Also known as labor laws, the FLSA is primarily designed to ensure workers’ safety and that they are treated fairly, along with protecting employers’ interests.

Here are answers to a few common questions that can help you know more about unpaid overtime claims:

1. Are Exempted Employees Eligible?

All employment laws are governed by federal and state constitutions, legislations and administrative rules. Additionally, an employee may be working on a contractual basis with the employer and hence, may be bound by the contract rules.

There is a section of employees, called exempted employees, that falls within an exception to the FLSA overtime rules. They are not entitled to overtime even if they work extra hours. Executives, professionals, and administrative employees are exempted from overtime wages, if they earn more than $455 a week.

However, not all employees earning more than $455 a week are exempted. Only those who hold advanced educational qualifications and are responsible for making high-priority business decisions are exempted from overtime payment.

2. Is Off-the-Clock Overtime Remunerated?

Employees entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA are considered nonexempt. They are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. In order to receive overtime payment, the non-exempt employees must fill out a Time and Attendance Record form that can document the number of work hours.

There are many employees who work off-the-clock, i.e. they work even when the time is not recorded in the employer’s system. A problem may arise if the work time does not reflect in the employee’s salary. Employers often do not incorporate instances like pre-shift and post-shift meetings, training programs, performing duty during lunch hour, checking or responding to emails after work hours. In such cases, one should seek legal advice and get remunerated for the extra hours of work.

3. Do State Laws Apply to Overtime Wages?

In America, states have specific labor laws along with federal laws in place for overtime. Employees enjoy several rights provided by the more considerate law of the two. If you are working in a state where your case is subject to both, the state and federal overtime laws, then you are entitled to receive overtime wages according to the laws that offers a higher pay.

The federal and state overtime laws may not be the same for all cases. Professions that fall into the category of exempted employees can vary in some states. If the federal laws for certain professions are more liberal than the state laws, then the former will be applicable to them.

4. How Does One File a Complaint for Unpaid Overtime Wages?

If you are a non-exempted employee, you can file a complaint for unpaid wages under the FLSA. You can either go to The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division to look into your case or hire an attorney to file a lawsuit in court.

You need to bear in mind that strict time limits are applicable on unpaid wages, and you must file a lawsuit in court within two years of the violation of labor laws for the case to be treated under federal law. However, do not wait until your time limit is close to expiration to file the lawsuit, but work out a clear timeline with your attorney.

Most organizations follow ethical and legal practices when dealing with their workforce. But, there may be times when employees end up working overtime due to short-staffed conditions or cost-cutting. In such scenarios, you need to ensure that the rights you are eligible for as an employee are not violated. With the help of an able attorney and the knowledge of federal and state labor laws, you can recover the overtime wages due to you.

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