If your employer is not paying you overtime, you could be missing out on a significant amount of money. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) estimates that approximately 72% of employers are not in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which regulates overtime pay across the country. The DOL collected $240 million in back wages in 2014. Unpaid overtime accounted for a large portion of that.
How Do Employers Avoid Paying Overtime?
Employers attempt to avoid paying their workers overtime in a variety of ways, including but not limited to:
- Classifying them as exempt employees or independent contractors. Neither exempt employees nor independent contractors are entitled to be paid overtime
- Getting them to perform their duties off the clock, for which they receive no compensation.
- Asking them to work before they are clocked in or after they are clocked out
- Not paying them for required meetings or training sessions
Why Do Employers Fail to Pay Overtime?
There are just as many reasons why employers fail to pay their employees overtime as there are ways to avoid paying them, most notable because:
- It’s less expensive to violate overtime regulations since only a hand full of employees ever file a claim for unpaid overtime
- They believe that they can get away with it. Workers often fear losing their jobs, so they don’t complain
- They claim that they cannot afford to pay overtime
- They simply don’t know they have to pay overtime
What Are Your Options?
If you believe that you are not being paid overtime when you should, your first step might be to discuss the issue with your employer. This will give your employer an opportunity to resolve the issue or explain to you why you haven’t been paid the overtime that you believe you should have been paid.
If after you have discussed the matter with your employer the issue remains unresolved, you essentially have the following options:
- File a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), or your state’s department of labor. These agencies have the authority to investigate these claims and order your employer to pay you the money you are owed.
- Hire an attorney and file a civil lawsuit against your employer. Employees are often reluctant to hire an attorney because think they can’t afford it. But, what you should know is that many attorneys are willing to take these types of cases on a contingency fee basis. This is because you stand to recover double the amount owed to you, as well as, your attorney’s fees.
In fact, courts are inclined to assist employees who are rightfully owed compensation for work performed and tend to award twice the wages owed plus attorneys’ fees whenever an employee can prove that he or she worked and was not paid.
- You may also be able to bring a collective action on behalf of all other workers who are owed this money.
If you believe that you have not been fairly compensated for overtime under the FLSA or your state’s wage and hour regulations, contact an experienced employment law attorney to discuss your claim.