Understanding Wage Theft: Are You Receiving the Overtime Pay You Deserve?
While there are very few legal restrictions on an employer’s ability to require that employees put in large amounts of overtime, there are very strict legal rules with regard to how “non-exempt” employees must be paid for working overtime. Employees are broken down into two categories under the wage laws – exempt and non-exempt.Long hours are the norm in many lines of work, including hospitality, oil field, construction, IT, food service, etc. with employees regularly clocking 60, 80, or even 100 hours per week. More shocking than the number of hours worked is the high rate of wage theft experienced by American workers in these and a wide variety of industries. By some estimates, up to 70% of U.S. employers are not in compliance with state and/or federal wage and hour laws. When employers fail to comply with the law it almost always an error in their favor – meaning employees are deprived of pay they are legally entitled to. This is wage theft.
- Exempt employees are those that fall under specific exemptions or exceptions to the overtime pay rules, meaning they are not legally required to be paid time and a half for working overtime.
- Non-exempt employees are all other workers whose job duties and pay schemes do not qualify for any exemption, meaning they are legally entitled to, and must be paid, time and a half for all hours worked over 40 per week. In general, employees who are not a part of management and do not participate significantly in the operations of a business should be classified as non-exempt (even if paid a salary). Employees who are paid hourly or using a day-rate are almost always non-exempt.