Did your boss fail to pay you for your overtime?
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“the FLSA”) non-exempt employees are entitled to time-and-a-half compensation, and the FLSA makes it illegal for an employer to withhold overtime pay from a non-exempt employee who works over 40 hours in a workweek. This means that any overtime worked in a particular workweek must be paid on the pay day covering the same pay period in which the overtime hours were worked.
Even so, employers often try to avoid paying overtime by misclassifying employees as “exempt,” having employees work “off the clock,” or refusing to pay employees for certain hours worked (such as putting on uniforms or equipment or putting these same things away).
Employers also sometimes do not pay any wages at all, claiming that they do not have the money or the tools, books, uniforms and the like were not returned. Very often this leads to a minimum wage violation under the FLSA, as this conduct is illegal in most circumstances. In other cases, employers do not pay full wages to employees or pay below minimum wage when the wages for the week are averaged. This is almost always an illegal wage violation under the FLSA.
It does not matter if you agreed to work for less than minimum wage or for free:
Under the FLSA an employee cannot waive their rights. So, when an employer strikes a deal with an employee allowing the employee to work off the clock for tips or for some other purposes, the employer still has to pay wages. The FLSA doesn’t let employers take advantage of employees in this manner because it would be so easy for an employer to just claim “he just wanted to work a little more for free.” The rule is that if the employer allows you to work, you have to get paid for all of the time you worked.
Remedies for Unpaid Overtime or Nonpayment of Wages:
Under the FLSA, employees may file a private suit against their employer for unpaid overtime or minimum wage violations. In addition, FLSA enforces penalties on those employers who improperly classify their employees as “exempt.” Congress intended the FLSA’s remedies to deter violations as well as to compensate employees for underpaid work and consequently, depending on the violation involved, provide both “liquidated damages” and criminal penalties.
Violations of minimum wage and overtime payment requirements of the FLSA can lead to substantial paydays for underpaid or unpaid employees. Employees are entitled to be properly paid for every hour worked, and under the FLSA’s liquidated damages provision wage differentials are almost always doubled to compensate the employee up to $2 for every $1 that was not paid to them on a timely basis. Finally, a prevailing employee is entitled to recover their reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, so that the employer, not the employee, pays for the employee’s legal services.