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What to do if you're getting cheated on overtime

Published On: Aug 14 2013 10:47:32 AM CDT
Paycheck, check, payroll

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By Sonya Madison, Special to THELAW.TV

As the economy rebuilds from a recession, many businesses employ fewer workers to complete the same responsibilities previously done by many. And thanks to technology and mobile handheld devices, work for some does not cease outside of the place of business. But what has not changed is the right to obtain pay for all hours worked. And if an employee is not classified as exempt, then he or she is entitled to overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal statute applicable to the majority of employers. In addition to setting minimum wage standards, it provides that overtime pay for nonexempt employees must be calculated at a rate of 1.5 times an employee's regular base salary. For employees seeking to protect or enforce their right to overtime pay under the Act, below is the proper procedure for obtaining pay owed.

Confirm nonexempt status

Overtime is only owed to employees classified as nonexempt under the FLSA. The FLSA exempts from overtime pay employees who obtain a certain salary, generally at least $455 per week, and meet its criteria of an executive, administrative, professional or outside sales employee.

Calculate overtime

To determine if overtime hours are owed, an employee needs to calculate the amount of hours worked. This requires obtaining pay statements and timesheets, and any record or journal of time worked. Work is all time that an employee is required or allowed to perform tasks for an employer regardless of where it is done. Completing work for a supervisor or responding to work emails or phone calls should be included as time worked even if done before entering an employer's premises, during lunch, at home or after normal business hours. Any hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek, but not compensated based on pay statements, are overtime hours owed.

Consult human resources

After calculating overtime hours owed, consult the employer's human resources department about the discrepancy. Bring the pay statements and records indicating the specific dates and times overtime hours were worked but not paid.

Contact employment law attorney or Department of Labor

If employer disputes the information supporting overtime pay owed, seek counsel from a qualified employment law attorney or contact the Department of Labor to file a claim on your behalf for unpaid overtime pay. Keep in mind there is a two-year statute of limitations to collect on pay owed. Additionally, an employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee enforcing his or her rights under the FLSA.

The author, Sonya Madison, is a workplace attorney in Atlanta, Ga.