It’s sometimes easy for both employers and employees to get confused about overtime laws and overtime pay. Federal and state labor laws define overtime as any amount of time that a nonexempt employee works over 40 hours within a given workweek. When an employee does so, their employer is required to pay that worker time-and-a-half for the additional time.
The same overtime and wage laws also define a workweek as a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 consecutive hours. Workplace disputes oftentimes arise when employers set their own overtime policies that differ from those found within the employment laws.
Does My Employment Status Affect Overtime Pay?
If you’re a nonexempt employee, your employer must usually pay you time-and-a-half for every minute you work over 40 hours in a workweek. End of story.
But knowing your exemption status can be confusing, and then there are some employers who purposely falsify a worker’s employment status to avoid paying them overtime wages.
In general, a worker is “exempt” under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and thus NOT eligible for overtime pay, when they meet any of these criteria:
● Being paid at least $455 per week, or $23,600 per year
● Being paid on a salary basis, or being paid a guaranteed minimum amount of money
● Performing exempt duties as defined under the FLSA
● Serving in executive, professional or administrative capacities, like registered nurses, outside sales reps., licensed medical doctors and computer software professionals.
If you don’t meet any of these federal criteria, you’re probably a nonexempt employee who IS eligible to receive overtime pay. Many states have now passed labor laws with overtime pay provisions that go above-and-beyond those found in the FLSA in order to further protect workers.
The exemptions under state laws vary from state to state, but in some instances an employee may be covered under the state’s overtime laws, even if he/she is exempted from the federal laws.
What Employers Can Do
Contrary to what you might think, your employer can require you to work more than 40 hours in a workweek. In other words, if your boss asks you to work 45 hours next week but you decide to clock out at 40 hours, they can write you up, or even terminate your employment, for ignoring their request.
In general, employers can:
● Require you to work more than 40 hours in a given workweek.
● Not schedule you to work at least 40 hours in a given workweek.
● Deny your personal request to work more than 40 hours in a given work week.
● Discipline you for ignoring their request to work more than 40 hours in a given workweek.
What Employers Cannot Do
However, your employer cannot ask you to work more than 40 hours in a workweek and then refuse to pay you time-and-a-half for any extra time you put in- but only if you’re a nonexempt employee.
Again, your boss does have the right to require you to work more than 40 hours if they pay you at time-and-a-half once you’ve reached the 40-hour threshold.
Under state and federal labor laws, employers cannot:
● Ask you to “clock out” at 40 hours, and then require you to keep working in order to avoid paying overtime wages.
● Falsify your employment status contrary to federal and state guidelines.
● Discipline you for breaking a workplace rule against working more than 40 hours and then refuse to pay you for the overtime you did work. For example, if you’re a waitress who chooses to cover another worker’s shift, but the restaurant has a policy against working more than 40 hours in a workweek, you can be written up by your employer if they still pay you for the extra hours you worked at time-and-a-half.
Bottom line: If you’re a nonexempt worker, your employer must usually pay you for every minute you work, and pay you time-and-a-half for every minute you work over 40 hours in a normal workweek.
We Defend Workers’ Rights in Overtime Pay Disputes
Understanding your overtime pay rights under the labor laws can be confusing. If you feel that your workplace rights have been violated, you may be entitled to compensation. To find out, contact the law offices of Forrest LaMothe today to schedule a FREE, no-obligation consultation and case review with an experienced employment and wage attorney. Our team of attorneys can assist you in understanding your employee rights. To get started, please call Forrest LaMothe today at 877-599-8890, or visit: forrestlamothe.com now.