Minimum Wage and Overtime

WHAT IS IT?

The Powell Law Firm represents individuals and groups who have been deprived of legally mandated minimum wage and/or overtime pay. In general, the law requires that most employees in the private and public sectors be paid at least the federal minimum wage as well as overtime pay at 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay for every hour of work per week over 40 hours. There are several exceptions (called “exemptions”) to this general rule. The most common exemptions are for certain executive, administrative, and professional employees, including teachers and academic administrative employees in elementary and secondary schools; however, there are many specific jobs and industries that are exempt from the general requirement that an employer must pay minimum wage and/or overtime.

In the eyes of the law, there are certain employees who are entitled to minimum wage and/or overtime pay, and there are certain employees who are not. Entitlement to such pay is governed almost entirely by the nature of your work and job duties. The rules regarding who is and is not entitled to such pay are vast and confusing. A good way to remember these rules is that, if you perform manual labor and/or are an “hourly” employee (meaning that you are required to clock-in or otherwise keep track of your hours, and your pay fluctuates based on a differential in your hours worked), then you are probably entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay.

COMMON VIOLATIONS MADE BY EMPLOYERS

Despite the fact that the federal minimum wage and overtime law was passed in the 1930s, many employers run afoul of the law, either intentionally because they do not want to follow the rules and pay the required compensation or unintentionally because they do not understand the law. Below are some common violations committed by employers:

  • An employee is "re-classified" and the employer all of a sudden begins paying overtime, despite no change in the employee's job duties. This action is usually taken because the employer figures out that the company was previously violating the law and has corrected the violation without compensating the employee retroactively for the violations that preceded the correction.
  • Some employers erroneously believe that an employee is "exempt" and not entitled to overtime merely because the employee receives a flat salary; however, the employee's job duties may qualify for a different pay assessment.
  • If you are labeled as an "independent contractor" but the employer still exercises significant control over your activities, then the employer may have misclassified your employment status and deprived you of legally mandated minimum wage and / or overtime pay for employees.
  • If you are an hourly employee who is paid on a "straight time" basis (i.e., flat weekly or monthly amount without regard to the number of hours worked), the employer may have violated the law.
  • You are asked to spend time engaging in work for which you are not paid (i.e., duties performed before clocking in or after clocking out, such as preparation, clean up, putting on or taking off safety gear, work performed during breaks, and traveling between work sites after the start of but before the end of the business day). Such time may also include time during which you are not actively working but are "on call" and also time you spend attending mandatory work meetings or training.
  • Your employer fails to compensate you for overtime that was not "pre-approved." The law requires eligible employees to be paid overtime for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek if the employer knew or should have known that you worked the overtime. Employees may be disciplined if they work unauthorized overtime in violation of the employer's policy, but the employer still must pay the overtime.
  • Overtime pay is denied to commissioned employees who do not regularly travel away from the employer's workplace. Employees who perform inside sales, for example, are typically entitled to overtime pay if they are not required to travel on a regular basis.

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