Are You Owed Overtime From Your Work?
Helping Employees to Be Paid Overtime Wages
Most employers in the United States are legally required to pay overtime to eligible employees who work more than 40 hours in a week.
If employees have to work more than a 40 hour work week, they should be paid a premium—time and a half. Unfortunately, many employers try to avoid paying time and a half through “creative” timekeeping, classifying employees in a way that exempts them from overtime rules, miscalculating employee pay, and just flat out refusing to pay overtime.
The following provides a basic explanation of overtime laws, common overtime violations, and gives you the information you need to protect yourself if your employer is breaking the law.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”)
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), covered employers must pay eligible employees an overtime premium of 150% of their regular hourly wage for every hour they work over 40 in a week. The vast majority of employers are covered by the FLSA. However, some employees are exempt from the law, and are not entitled to the overtime premium.
What are Exempt Employees?
Exempt employees are not entitled to overtime if they work extra hours. (Employees that are entitled to overtime are referred to as “nonexempt.”)
The FLSA exempts a variety of workers, from newspaper deliverers to seamen, workers on small farms, and outside salespeople. However, most overtime pay disputes involve “white-collar” employees—executive, professional, and administrative employees that earn a weekly salary of at least $684.00, and have job duties that are managerial in nature, involve high level business decisions, or requires an advanced degree.
Learn more about how these exemptions are defined.
Texas Workers and Overtime Laws
Most states have their own overtime laws, too. Employees are entitled to the rights provided by the more protective law, federal or state. State overtime laws differ from the FLSA in a couple of important ways. First, states may exempt and include different categories of employees, such that you might be entitled to overtime under federal law but not state (or vice versa). Second, a few states have daily overtime limits. You can read more about Texas Overtime Laws here.
The Most Common Texas Overtime Violations
Here are some common violations involving employee classification:
- classifying employees as exempt “managers” when their job duties are essentially the same as the employees who report to them; and,
- classifying employees as exempt under one of the white collar exemptions when their jobs don’t require discretion and independent judgment.
Improperly Counting Hours Worked
Even if an employer properly classifies an employee as nonexempt, the employer might violate the law by undercounting employee hours by, for example:
- requiring employees to work “off the clock;”
- requiring employees to work through unpaid rest or meal breaks;
- requiring, expecting, or allowing employees to do extra work at home that’s not compensated;
- not counting time employees spend putting on or taking off protective gear and clothing at the worksite; and,
- not counting time employees spend traveling for work (for example, if employees report to a particular location, and are shuttled or otherwise drive to a worksite from there); and,
- not counting time spent on required training and other mandatory activities.
Improper Calculation of the Hourly Rate
The overtime premium is 150% of the employee’s regular hourly rate. Some employers don’t include all required compensation in coming up with that wage, however. Common miscalculation include:
- not counting all wages or commissions in calculating the employee’s hourly rate, and
- not counting all performance-based bonuses in the employee’s hourly rate.
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