If you believe that you should have received overtime pay and did not, you may have an overtime pay claim. Federal, state, and local wage and hour laws may apply in your case. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law which sets overtime pay requirements. The law which will apply to you is the one which entitles you to the highest amount of overtime pay.
Under FLSA overtime hours are hours worked beyond 40 hours in a single workweek. Overtime pay is one and a half times your normal rate, and only applies to your overtime hours. So, if your normal rate is $10.00 per hour and you work 45 hour in a week, in most cases you should receive $400 for the first 40 hours and $75 for the five overtime hours, for a total of $475 for that week.
A workweek is defined as “a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours — seven consecutive 24-hour periods.” Your employer can choose any day of the week and any hour of the day for the workweek to begin, and even different workweeks for different employees, but cannot average your hours over two or more weeks in order to get out of paying overtime.
For instance, if you work 50 hours one week and 15 hours the next, your employer cannot average that and called it 32.5 hours per week; even if paydays are every two weeks you are still due 10 hours of overtime pay for that pay period.
A common misconception on the part of employees is the belief that holidays, weekends, or long or unusual shifts entitle them to overtime pay. It is not unusual for employers to voluntarily offer overtime or double time pay for holidays and other occasions, but it is not required by law.
So, if you work on Christmas, your birthday, or a Sunday, under FLSA you are only entitled to overtime for that “special” day if it put you over 40 hours for the week.
There are numerous exemptions to overtime requirements. Exempt employees include:
- Farm workers
- Casual babysitters
- Companions to the elderly or infirm
- Executive employees
- Administrative employees
- Professional employees
- Outside sales employees
- Certain computer-related positions
- Movie theater employees
- Employees of certain seasonal amusement or recreational establishments
- Seamen employed on foreign vessels
- Employees engaged in fishing operations
- Some mechanics
- Newspaper deliverer persons
This is not a comprehensive list of exemptions. If you believe that your employer has failed or refused to pay overtime wages to which you were entitled and employment attorney can help you understand and protect your legal rights.