In the United States, we are taught that when we work hard, we reap the benefits of our efforts. It’s a lesson that we’ve taken to heart; American workers put in more hours than those in any other first-world country. Yet, for many, our pay doesn’t seem to be keeping pace with the number of hours worked.
For decades, many workers in the United States have been guaranteed time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours a week. The Fair Labor Standards Act established federal provisions on overtime pay for “nonexempt” workers. Most salaried workers making less than $23,660 per year, for example, are entitled to no less than time-and-a-half pay for work exceeding 40 hours per week.
Other workers, even those not covered by federal law, might have agreements with their employers that offer overtime pay. However, it is not uncommon for employers to fail to live up to their agreement with employees or to fail to comply with federal labor laws. In many cases, workers aren’t aware that they are entitled to overtime pay until they have worked at their job for several months, or even years, which means they are owed a significant backlog of overtime pay.
If you believe that you are owed overtime pay that your employer has failed to give you, contact Steven H. Heisler. Steve has been fighting for clients in Maryland for years to make sure they get the treatment and the payment they deserve.
What is Overtime Pay?
The idea behind federal overtime pay laws is that when a worker exceeds 40 hours a week, they should be paid at a higher rate. Overtime pay is called time-and-a-half pay, meaning that a worker should be paid a rate 50 percent greater than their standard hourly rate. While federal law is often applicable to blue-collar workers — those who do manual labor — it can also apply to many other types of workers, too.
How Employers Might Underpay Workers
Though most employers are aware of the federal rules about overtime pay, some still find ways to cut corners. One of the most common approaches is to misclassify workers. For example, an employer might hire someone as a contractor, though they would more adequately be described as an employee. If you work primarily for one company, use equipment provided by that company and receive training from them, as well, you should probably be classified as an employee as opposed to a contractor.
Employers might also require workers to perform certain parts of their job outside of their office, either before or after “office hours.” For example, if your boss asks you to do work at night at your own home, then you are likely doing work that should be considered overtime. If an employer fails to pay time-and-a-half for time exceeding 40 hours a week and the employee qualifies as a nonexempt worker, the employer could be held accountable for the owed payment and additional damages.
Who is an Exempt Worker?
Managers, administrators, independent contractors and some types of salaried employees could be classified as being exempt from the FLSA. However, job titles alone do not determine exempt status. There are several tests set forth by the FLSA that determine who can be classified as exempt. Some of these are clearer than others, and it is always best to consult with an overtime pay attorney if you believe that you might qualify for overtime pay.
The FLSA Also Protects Workers Who Report Pay Violations
Federal law prohibits businesses from retaliating against workers who report them to the authorities. You have the right to report violations, including those regarding employee compensation. If you have reported violations and been the victim of retaliation, you can seek compensation for damages stemming from retaliation in addition to those related to your pay.
It’s not always an easy decision to seek owed payment from an employer. Workers have typically been subjected to these practices for a long period before they decide to speak out. They might have even first attempted to report the problem internally to their employers before consulting with an attorney or reporting their employer to the authorities.
If you are owed overtime pay from your employer, contact Steven H. Heisler to speak with our legal team. We will examine the laws governing your job and your relationship with your employer to determine whether you might be eligible for overtime pay. We are proud to stand up for workers to make sure they get the payment that they deserve. Contact us today by filling out our online form or calling us at (410) 625-4878 to schedule a free consultation.