home healthcare worker with patient

A Virginia home healthcare agency is learning the hard way about a fundamental rule concerning worker pay: employees cannot waive their rights to overtime. After illegally asking 50 workers to forgo time and a half pay, it is compensating workers for over $604,000 in back wages and liquidated damages. If your employer has asked you to give up overtime, you may be entitled to compensation.

The case against Progressive Services of Virginia, LLC

The owners of a home healthcare agency known as Progressive Services of Virginia, asked their employees to sign agreements waiving their rights to overtime compensation. As a result, the employers paid straight-time (regular hourly) rates for time worked over 40 hours in a week. This action was in clear violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, which is the main federal law that governs overtime and related matters throughout the United States.

After an investigation, the agency paid $302,144 in back wages, plus an equal amount in liquidated damages. On top of the over $604,000 recovered, the DOL also levied $18,703 in civil money penalties against the employers because of their intentional violations of the FLSA.

Your right to overtime

Under the FLSA, if you work more than 40 hours in a week, you have the right to overtime pay for those hours. Overtime pay is commonly called “time and a half pay” because the overtime rate is 1.5 times an employee’s regular hourly rate. Some states and municipalities have even more generous overtime rules, so be sure to check with your state or local government. Any time there is a discrepancy between the FLSA and a local or state rule, the one more beneficial to the worker applies.

You cannot waive your right to receive overtime pay, even if you sign a contract or other paperwork to that effect. An employer also cannot tell you to sign an overtime waiver or implement one. Such a waiver is illegal, even if the employee voluntarily agrees to it. Progressive Services paid a hefty penalty to learn this.

Unfortunately, not all workers are aware of their rights. Their employers may tell them it’s permissible to waive overtime or try to have the employees trade their rights away. If you are working more than 40 hours per week and your employer is not paying you time and a half, you could recover back wages, liquidated damages, and court and lawyer fees.

Other ways employers deny overtime

Asking or requiring employees to sign waivers is just one of many tactics employers use to violate their employees’ rights to overtime. Some other examples include:

  • Deliberately miscalculating an employee’s total number of hours worked in a week
  • Not including all types of pay when determining the regular rate of pay on which overtime is based (not applying the correct rate to overtime hours)
  • Asking or requiring an employee to work “off the clock” before or after a shift
  • Automatic meal break deductions even though the employee worked during the “break,” which effectively reduces the total work week hours
  • Misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor, who is usually not entitled to overtime
  • Incorrectly applying an exemption to the overtime laws (most hourly workers don’t qualify for an exemption, meaning they must be paid overtime)

Don’t Let Your Employer Cheat You Out of Overtime

The Lore Law Firm takes legal action against employers who violate overtime and other laws regarding wages and hours worked. If you aren’t being paid correctly for your overtime work, let us take a look at your situation. Complete our confidential online client intake form now for a case review.

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.