Industrial and manufacturing employees who work more than 40 hours per week are entitled to overtime pay in the United States. And while the Department of Labor will penalize employers who fail to pay required overtime, the government cannot police all violations of the law. There are also many instances in which employers run afoul of state laws that provide overtime protections. Workers who have not been paid required overtime can seek back wages, additional damages in an equal amount, and court and lawyer fees. If your employer has violated your right to overtime, we’re ready to take legal action on your behalf.
Know Your Right to Overtime Pay
Most hourly employees in the United States, including those working industrial and manufacturing jobs, must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. This right is guaranteed by the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA, the main federal law that concerns overtime, minimum wage, and other wage and labor issues. Overtime is commonly referred to as “time and a half” because the employer must pay 1.5 times the worker’s regular rate.
The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, but many states and municipalities have adopted more generous policies that pay a higher minimum wage. Any time there are different minimum wage rates, the highest one in a geographical area will apply. So if, for example, a state requires that workers be paid a minimum wage higher than what the federal government requires, the state wage prevails.
Knowing which minimum wage applies is important to making sure you are paid the correct amount of overtime. That’s because the “regular rate” that is multiplied by 1.5 (to determine the overtime rate) must itself be at least the minimum wage. If you are paid less than the applicable minimum wage in your state or city, you will also be paid less overtime than you deserve.
State and local governments also sometimes have stronger overtime protections compared to the FLSA. You therefore may be entitled to even higher pay than what is provided for under federal law. We can help you understand the specific overtime rules that apply where you work.
How Do Employers Violate the Overtime Rights of Industrial and Manufacturing Workers?
For those who work in heavy industry and manufacturing, there are a number of ways that their employers may cheat them out of overtime. You should understand the following tactics so you can be aware of, and take legal action against, overtime violations:
Failure to include all time worked. Any time that is spent working on behalf of an employer, in a way that benefits the employer, should generally be compensated. The time spent performing this work should be included in an employee’s total weekly work hours.
With respect to industrial and manufacturing workers, employers often fail to count time that the employees spend on various tasks, such as:
- Handoff or handover meetings during shift changeovers
- Putting on or taking off protective equipment
- Pre-shift inspections of equipment
- Logging on and booting up computers and loading apps and databases
- Undergoing post-shift security inspections
- Installing and repairing machines and equipment
- Oiling, greasing, cleaning, and maintaining machines and equipment
- Traveling from one job site to another
- Receiving instructions
- Waiting or being “on call” while on the employer’s property
- Picking up and transporting tools and equipment
These and other tasks may take place before shifts start after they end, and at other periods during the work day. But by not including these hours in the employee’s weekly total, overtime may be unjustly withheld.
Recordkeeping failures. Employers must keep accurate records of their workers’ compensable time. Many industrial and manufacturing companies are unaware of this rule, and employees rely on their supervisors or other personnel to keep accurate records. It’s a good idea to independently keep track of your own time in the event your employer fails to.
Automatic meal breaks. Employers are not typically required to count as compensable time any meal breaks that last at least 30 minutes. However, the employee must actually be relieved of work duties during this time; otherwise, it is not a true break and the time must be paid and included in the weekly total of hours worked.
Automatic meal breaks are often deducted from paychecks and the time is not counted, even though the employee may work through the “break.” It should be noted that if a worker is on call and is frequently interrupted during the break, then the worker is not actually relieved of work obligations. The time must be paid and included in the weekly total.
Incorrectly applying an exemption. There are exemptions to the overtime rules, but they do not apply to manual laborers or other “blue-collar” workers who perform work that involves repetitive operations with their hands, physical skills, and energy. Industrial and manufacturing employees are likely to be considered blue-collar workers, so the employer cannot claim an exemption for them.
General overtime violations. Some overtime violations are seen across many different types of jobs, including heavy industry and manufacturing. One example is the employer making mathematical errors in totaling hours or always rounding time down in favor of the company when calculating the amount of overtime pay. Another is averaging hours across more than one work week; every week must stand on its own.
Are You an Industrial or Manufacturing Worker? Find Out if You’re Entitled to Overtime
The above are only some examples of how industrial and manufacturing companies deprive their workers of overtime. If any of these apply to you, or you suspect that your overtime or minimum wage rights are being violated, it’s time to check with The Lore Law Firm. Fill out our online client intake form for a free and confidential case review.