While overtime laws are well established in America, overtime law violations continue to be a significant issue for America’s workforce. The failure by employers to properly pay overtime wages continues to be litigated in state and federal courts throughout the country, as well as in administrative proceedings. Many of these cases are brought by individuals, and sometimes the cases are brought as class actions where an employer has uniformly failed to pay overtime to a group of employees.
Enacted nationally in 1938 as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), federal overtime laws sought to curb exploitation of workers during the Depression era and to encourage more widespread employment. The need for overtime law protections for workers has continued. Today, many states have their own overtime regulations, in addition to those standards mandated by federal law. In New York, most overtime laws follow the federal FLSA provisions.
Under FLSA, an employer must pay time-and-a-half for any hours worked beyond 40 in a week. Time-and-a-half means, for example, that if an employee normally earns $10 per hour, overtime must be paid at $15 per hour. The 40-hours-per-week rule applies whether an employee is paid daily, weekly, bi-weekly or on some other basis. Overtime requirements can apply not only to those paid an hourly wage, but to employees paid by salary, paid for piece work, or by other methods. Employers cannot require employees to waive rights to overtime pay as part of their employment contract.
Overtime cases often involve related wrongdoing, such as the failure to properly keep records of the hours employees have worked, by forcing employees to work off-the-clock or by not tracking employee hours whatsoever. Unscrupulous employers who fail to pay overtime sometimes also do not comply with other wage-and-hour requirements, such as providing meal and rest breaks to employees as required by law. Because back pay, interest, penalties, and payment of a successful plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees are included in typical overtime cases, the damages a worker or group of workers can recover is sometimes substantial.
Not all workers are covered by overtime laws. Independent contractors are not eligible for overtime, and certain limited types of businesses, such as family-owned businesses that do not employ non-family members, are not required to pay overtime. Certain categories of employment are considered “exempt” from overtime by FLSA. These include executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and certain computer employees. Whether an employee meets the definition of any of these categories and is properly classified as exempt requires analysis of many facts and focuses on the skills and duties of the employee.
Overtime cases can be complex, involving the application of federal and state law, and often involving other violations of wage-and-hour laws. If you have wrongly been denied overtime, an experienced New York overtime law lawyer can help. The Law Offices of Friedman & Houlding LLP has helped many employees facing employment law issues, and several of our attorneys have substantial experience specifically with overtime violation claims. We will give you our assessment of your case without charge, and if we accept your case you pay us nothing unless we obtain favorable results. Call our office today at (888) 369-1119 for a confidential consultation.