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If you’re an hourly worker, it is critical that you understand your right to receive overtime pay. Far too few employees know about their rights, which unfortunately allows their employers to exploit them. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that from 2017 to 2020, more than $3 billion in stolen wages (including overtime) were legally recovered on behalf of workers, which means there may still be more money that is not accounted for.

You’ve worked too hard for your money to leave it on the table. If you’re not being fully compensated for your overtime work, it’s time to explore your legal options. The Lore Law Firm stands up for workers who are not being paid as the law requires. We can review your case today.

What Are The Overtime Rules For Hourly Workers?

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The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), along with state laws, set the standards for overtime pay. Non-exempt employees (see below for exemptions) must be paid time and a half for hours worked over 40 in a work week. There are a couple of important definitions you need to know about:

  • Time and a half: 1.5 times the employee’s regular pay rate
  • Work week: a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours or seven consecutive 24-hour periods (the work week can begin and end on any day as long as it fits these criteria; it does not need to coincide with the calendar week)

Employers cannot average hours over two or more weeks to deny overtime. For example, assume you work 20 hours one week and 44 another. During the 20-hour week, you are to be paid at the regular rate since you did not exceed 40 hours. For the 44-hour week, the first 40 hours are to be paid at the regular rate and the 4 hours above 40 are to be paid as overtime. Your employer cannot average the two weeks (32/week) and pay you the regular rate for all of these hours.

Federal law does not limit the number of hours that employees aged 16 and older may work in a given work week. The FLSA does not require employees to be paid overtime simply because they work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or regular days of rest, unless they’ve met the above criteria (over 40 hours in a work week).

Overtime must generally be paid on the regular pay day for the period in which the hours were worked.

How Is Hourly Overtime Pay Calculated?

If you are an hourly employee, this simple calculation can help you understand how much overtime you are owed.

Assume an employee’s regular pay rate is $8.00/hour, and the employee works 44 hours during a work week. The employee is entitled to be paid 1.5 times the regular pay rate ($12.00/hour) for the 4 hours worked over 40. The breakdown of regular versus overtime hours is as follows:

40 hours x $8.00/hour = $320.00

4 hours x $12.00/hour = $48.00

Total: $368.00

Which Employees Are Exempt From Overtime?

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Certain types of workers are exempt from the overtime protections afforded by the FLSA. These exemptions are narrowly construed against the employer asserting them. That means the burden of showing that an employee meets the exemption will ultimately fall on the employer.

These are just some of the most common overtime exemptions:

  • Executive, administrative, and professional. These categories of workers are strictly defined by Department of Labor regulations. Those who meet the requisite criteria and who are paid on a salary basis are exempt from FLSA overtime provisions.
  • Outside sales employees. Employees who are customarily and regularly work away from the employer’s place(s) of business and perform sales-related duties. 
  • Automobile dealership workers. Salesmen, partsmen, and mechanics who are employed by automobile dealerships are not covered by the FLSA overtime rules.
  • Commissioned sales employees (retail or service establishments). A commissioned employee is exempt if more than half of his or her earnings come from commissions and the employee averages at least 1.5 times the minimum wage for each hour worked.
  • Computer professionals. Under FLSA regulations, certain computer professionals who are paid at least $27.63/hour are exempt from overtime provisions.
  • Drivers, drivers’ helpers, loaders, and mechanics. These workers are exempt from overtime pay rules if the worker is employed by a motor carrier and if the worker’s duties affect the safety of operation of truck vehicles transporting passengers or property in interstate commerce.
  • Seasonal and recreational businesses. Many individuals are employed by seasonal and recreational establishments. Certain ones are exempt from overtime pay rules based on how long they operate each year and/or how much of their revenue is generated during certain periods of time.

These are not the only exemptions. If you’re not sure whether you are entitled to overtime, fill out our free and confidential intake form to learn more.

How Deductions May Affect Overtime

Employers can legally deduct certain items from workers’ paychecks. Some items, such as taxes, are required by law. Others, including retirement accounts, are permitted as long as the employee has authorized the deduction. These latter (voluntary) deductions must be for the employee’s benefit.

Deductions are not allowed to the extent they reduce the amount of overtime pay as required by the FLSA and/or state laws. Certain deductions may not be allowed for other reasons. Ask an attorney if you have questions about paycheck deductions.

State Laws May Provide Additional Protections

The FLSA only sets the floor of minimum legal requirements that all states must follow with respect to hourly overtime. States are free to adopt laws that offer more generous protections to their workers. Wherever the state and federal laws differ, the one that provides more benefits or rights to the employee will apply.

Ways In Which Employers Violate The Law

Either unintentionally or intentionally, many employers frequently violate the overtime rules set forth in state and federal law. These are some of the most common ways employers deny overtime to their workers:

  • Misclassifying an employee as exempt from overtime
  • Misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor (a/k/a 1099 worker) 
  • Miscalculating the overtime rate (failing to include all compensation)
  • Under reporting the number of hours the employee worked (time shaving, improper rounding or off the clock)

What Damages Can You Recover?

A wage and hour attorney can review your circumstances and advise you as to your legal rights. If an employer is found liable for violating your right to overtime, you can receive the following legal damages (and possibly others):

  • Back pay for the overtime you were not paid
  • Liquidated damages, which is an additional amount that is equal to the back pay you should have received (unless the employer can prove it acted in good faith)
  • Attorney’s fees

The Lore Law Firm Is Ready To Serve You

No worker deserves to be cheated out of the wages they’ve rightfully earned. We understand how stressful it can be to know that your employer has denied your overtime. That’s why we go to work every day to fight for the wage and hour rights of American workers. Reach out to The Lore Law Firm today for a free and confidential review of your case.