Some employers will go to any length to avoid giving workers their hard-earned overtime pay. One of the challenges employees may encounter is determining what measures their employers might be taking and which of those actions falls under unethical or unlawful practices. This is especially so for those employers that opt to pay their workers with multiple checks for one pay period.

After years of helping workers get their hard-earned pay from unscrupulous employers, the Lore Law Firm has extensive experience in the tricks that companies pull to get out of paying overtime. Often, they are so subtle that workers may not even realize they are the victim of wage theft.

How Can Splitting Wages Into Multiple Checks Impact Overtime Pay?

Overtime rules are relatively straightforward: any hours worked over 40 in a standard workweek must be paid at time-and-a-half. If you are a non-exempt employee, then this means that your employer must pay you time-and-a-half for every hour that you worked beyond the standard 40, even if you worked at multiple locations. If you are getting multiple paychecks from your employer, look carefully at each one because this is a red flag that something may be amiss. Depending on how your employer is splitting the checks, they may be cheating you out of overtime hours worked.

The most common wage law violation involving multiple paychecks occurs when an employee works at more than one of the employer’s locations during a single workweek, but the hours worked at each location are not combined for the purposes of determining and calculating overtime pay. In this scenario, workers get a separate paycheck from each location they work at but are not paid overtime when the total hours worked at all locations exceed 40 per week. A typical case would be: You make $15/hours and work at store #1 for 35 hours and store #2 for 20 hours in the same workweek and get separate checks from each for $525 and $300, which is straight time for all of your hours. Legally, you should get paid for 15 hours of overtime since you worked a combined total of 55 hours – an additional $112.50 for the week.

Some employers try to shift hours around in situations where the pay period reflects more than one work week at a time. For instance, if you worked 35 hours one week and 45 the next within the same pay period, the employer might try to split your checks into two 40-hour checks, telling you that it equals the same number of hours. Splitting checks in this way is called averaging across workweeks and violates the Fair Labor Standards Act, as you are due 5 hours at one-and-a-half times your hourly rate for the week in which you worked 45 hours.

Why Employers Splitting Checks Is Illegal

Your employer cannot arbitrarily change your pay structure or use multiple checks from different companies simply to get out of paying you the overtime you are due. Each workweek must be treated separately and multiple payments are only lawful if your checks reflect the exact number of hours you worked each week. For example, a 35-hour check for one week and a 45-hour check that includes your overtime hours.

If you are concerned that you are having your overtime pay withheld, it’s recommended to speak with an overtime pay lawyer. This form of overtime pay withholding is almost always a deliberate tactic from your employer to save themselves money, so having a lawyer to look into your compensation options is your best bet at having a fair outcome.

Review Your Case with an Experienced Overtime Pay Lawyer

It can be hard to know if your employer is doing everything above-board when they do things that seem out of the ordinary, such as giving you multiple paychecks. Moreover, you may be unsure of what to do if your hours and pay are not adding up if you worked overtime in a pay period. It is best to consult with an overtime pay lawyer with experience in tactics employers use to avoid paying overtime in situations like this one. The Lore Law Firm is well-versed in the types of tricks employers try to avoid overtime pay and can advise you on how to handle the situation if this is what your multiple paycheck structure shows.

The best place to start is with a free and confidential review. Call us today at (713) 782-5291 or to learn more


Michael Lore is the founder of The Lore Law Firm. For over 25 years, his law practice and experience extend from representing individuals in all aspects of labor & employment law, with a concentration in class and collective actions seeking to recover unpaid back overtime wages, to matters involving executive severance negotiations, non-compete provisions and serious personal injury (work and non-work related). He has handled matters both in the state and federal courts nationwide as well as via related administrative agencies. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Michael by using our chat functionality.