Overtime pay can be a blessing, creating an opportunity to earn more per hours for hours worked over the employee’s regularly scheduled shift. However, there are legal loopholes that allow employers to require the extra work without having to pay the overtime rate. By learning more about how these laws are laid out can help you determine, whether your employer has the legal authority to deny paying you the overtime rate.
1. Requiring Employees to Work Off the Clock
This is an all too common practice, particularly because employees don’t realize it’s up to them to refuse. It involves asking an employee to do preparatory work, prior to starting their shift, or to perform other functions. The employee may be asked to clean a work area, answer telephones, or perform other tasks. When an employee performs this type of “off the clock” work, the employer is required to document it and to pay the employee for his, or her, time.
2. Averaging Your Hours Worked
This is especially problematic, when employees are paid every two weeks, or bi-monthly. If 50 hours were worked one week, the employer tries to get out of paying overtime by only scheduling the employee for 30 hours on the following week. The employer will average the two weeks and pay the employee for having worked two 40-hour weeks within that pay period. Most people don’t realize that the employment laws prohibit Florida employers, and employers throughout the country, from doing this.
3. Misclassifying Employees
Another practice that is prohibited by federal law is misclassifying workers as salaried employees. The law allows employers to classify those employees earning over $455 per week as salaried workers. In this case, overtime regulations don’t apply. For that reason, employers attempt to misclassify employees making below that threshold as salaried and avoid paying overtime rates in this way. If this is happening, the employees should either discuss the issue with their employer or direct the matter to experienced overtime pay attorneys to correct the issue.
4. Classified as an Independent Contractor
If your employer classifies an employee as an independent contractor, many of the federal employment laws don’t apply. However, if this is the case, you should familiarize yourself with the laws regarding independent contractors, because you may have other rights in this situation. On the other hand, if you are treated as an employee and required to follow company regulations, you may have been misclassified as an independent contractor. In this case, your employee does have to pay the overtime rate for additional hours worked.
5. Providing Comp Time
This involves giving you time off in exchange for working overtime hours. For instance, if you work a double shift on Thursday, your employer may agree to let you have Friday off, so your weekly hours worked will remain under 40 hours. This is a common occurrence, particularly because most people don’t realize it violates federal laws and many state employment laws.
Once you decide to act against your employer, you must be prepared for retaliation. While it’s not legal for an employer to punish an employee for seeking compensation for wage theft, it does happen. You may be demoted, receive unfair performance reviews, or you may see your scheduled hours reduced. If these types of retaliation do occur, most states allow you to sue for compensation and punitive damages.
When you sue an employer for overtime wage theft, there are a number of ways you may be compensated. A settlement, or a favorable outcome in court, may allow you to collect double the owed wages. In addition, your employer may be forced to pay legal fees on your behalf, including your lawyer’s fee. For this reason, many overtime pay attorneys in Florida will provide a free initial compensation and will handle your case on a contingency fee.
If you do believe that your employer isn’t paying you fairly, you should consult a Florida employment law specialist as soon as possible. The Law Office of Keith M. Stern, P.A. has the expertise to evaluate your situation and determine if legal action can help you. Your free case review will help you learn more about how the laws apply to your specific situation and what Keith M. Stern and his legal team can do for you.
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