Overtime pay is a fundamental labor protection that ensures fair compensation for additional time at work. However, sometimes employers attempt to evade paying overtime.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, employers in 2019 owed workers nearly $100 million more in back wages than they did a decade ago. This is an increasingly prevalent issue that you should understand if you are a worker.
Overtime pay violations
Employers use various tactics to evade paying overtime. They might categorize employees as exempt or independent contractors. Additionally, they can promote off-the-clock work. Sometimes, they ask for tasks before or after clocking in. Another approach is to exclude payment for mandatory meetings and training sessions.
Some employers avoid paying overtime because they worry about the costs, while others think they will not face the consequences. Financial constraints can also be a factor. In some cases, there is a lack of awareness about legal obligations.
Addressing payment issues
If you find yourself in a situation where you believe your employer has denied your rightful overtime pay, start by discussing the matter with your employer to resolve your conflict. In certain cases, you might explore the possibility of initiating collective action for yourself and other affected employees who have experienced overtime pay denials. If that does not resolve the problem, consider filing a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division or your state’s labor department.
Legal options for employees
Taking legal action can help you recover lost wages and seek compensation. Filing a lawsuit can enable you to receive the amount of money your employer did not pay you, including unpaid overtime. For example, if your employer paid you regular wages for overtime work, you can seek the additional amount you should have earned.
You might have the right to interest on your unpaid wages. In some cases, recovering a sum in place of interest is possible. If your employer acted in bad faith, you could receive double the unpaid wage amount as liquidated damages under federal law.
You do not need to let unpaid overtime go unaddressed. Knowing your rights and options can empower you to stand for fair compensation.