Unpaid Overtime: Is a Small Amount Worth the Fight?

Unpaid Overtime

Unpaid overtime is a huge problem for many workers. Overtime is defined as any work over 40 hours in a week. Federal law requires that covered; nonexempt workers are paid 1 and 1/2 times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Some states have their own overtime laws, and in some cases, the state law provides greater protection than the federal law.

Many of us know it’s against the law for an employer not to pay overtime. But, it’s just a little here and there, so you might wonder if it’s really worth the fight? This article will explore that question.

How Much Is the Average Back Wages Settlement?

On average, people who end up pursuing legal action over unpaid overtime receive a back wages settlement of about $3,000 to $4,000. If you only worked a few extra hours here and there, this might not seem like a lot of money for the effort. But, you are entitled to 2x – 3x on top of unpaid wages, which can quickly add up.

Additionally, the law is pretty clear on this issue. If you win your case, your attorney can sue for damages, plus attorneys’ fees and costs. So, if you are owed $1,000 in unpaid overtime, your total recovery could be compounded significantly.

Can an Employer Fire Me for Suing for Unpaid Overtime?

No. It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee for asserting their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This means that your employer cannot fire you, demote you, or take any other adverse action against you because you have filed a claim or sued for unpaid overtime.

What Is the Statute of Limitations to Sue for Unpaid Wages?

The statute of limitations is the time limit you have to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations for an FLSA claim is two years from the date the overtime was earned or three years if the employer willfully violated the law.

What If I’m a Salaried Worker?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that covered; nonexempt employees are paid overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. But, not all employees are covered by the FLSA. Exempt employees are not entitled to overtime pay, regardless of how many hours they work.

To qualify as exempt, an employee must meet certain criteria. First, the employee must be paid a salary rather than an hourly wage. Second, the employee must be paid at least $455 per week ($23,660 per year). Third, the employee must have a job that is classified as exempt under the FLSA.

There are three main exemptions under the FLSA: executive, administrative, and professional employees. Each exemption has its own specific requirements, but generally speaking, the exempt employee must have certain job duties and responsibilities.

If you are an exempt employee, you are not entitled to overtime pay, even if you work more than 40 hours in a week. However, if you are a nonexempt employee who is wrongly classified as exempt, you may be entitled to overtime pay.

To determine if your position has been wrongly misclassified as exempt, contact an adept employment attorney.

How Do I Know if My Employer Violated the Law?

There are a few ways to tell if your employer has violated the law. First, check your pay stubs. Are all of the hours you worked included in your regular rate of pay? If not, this is a violation. Second, ask yourself whether you are being paid 1.5 times your regular rate for all hours worked over 40 in a week. If not, this is also a violation. Finally, if you are required to work off the clock or during your lunch break, this is a clear violation of the law.

If you believe your employer has violated the law, you should contact an experienced employment attorney. An attorney can review your case and help you understand your rights and options. Additionally, an attorney can represent you in negotiations with your employer or in court, if necessary.

An employment lawyer will also be able to tell you whether you are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA does not cover all employees, so it is important to know whether you are covered before you file a claim.

What If I am a Day Rate Worker?

Day rate workers are workers who are paid a set amount for each day they work. However, that flat-rate pay is based on a typical 8-hour day. If you work above and beyond your normal 8 hours, you may be entitled to overtime pay.

To determine whether you are owed overtime pay, your lawyer will need to review your day rate pay. They will also need to calculate how many hours you actually worked. This can be a complicated process because day rate workers may have a different overtime rate than hourly workers.

For example:

Let’s say your day rate is $150 per day for a 5-day work week, and your total work hours are 60 for the week. First, we multiply the daily rate by the number of days, then divide by the number of hours to find the regular hourly pay rate.

Regular Rate Calculation = $150 x 5 days = $750 / 60 hours = $12.50 Regular Rate

The rate of overtime pay for day rate employees decreases with the number of hours worked. You would be paid $12.50 for the first 40 hours worked, then multiply the regular rate times 1/2 the regular rate ($6.25) times the overtime worked of 20 hours.

Overtime Pay Calculation = $12.50 x 1/2 x 20 Overtime Hours = $125 Overtime Pay

Therefore, your total pay for the week would be $750 Day Rate Earnings + $125 Overtime Pay = $875 Total Pay.


The Bottom Line

40 hours per week is enough to create difficulties for many who seek a healthy work/life balance. While in the long run, an hour here, a missed lunch hour there, and a few hours on the weekend may not seem like much, they can really add up. And, having your life and work balance disrupted by an employer who demands more and more of your time can be extremely frustrating.

You work hard enough without your employer taking advantage of you. If you believe your employer has violated the law, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced employment lawyer. An attorney can help you understand your rights and options and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

Our team at Josephson Dunlap, LLP is here to help. We have experience representing employees who have been misclassified and denied overtime pay. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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