Federal law protects your rights to overtime pay in multiple situations. However, because overtime pay costs employers substantially more, they will often go to great lengths to avoid properly compensating their employees.
You probably assume that your employer wants to avoid all violations of the law and will pay you appropriately. However, if any of the three situations below apply to you, you may have grounds for an overtime wage claim against your employer.
They ask you to clock out and keep working or to work before you clock in
You should get paid for all of the time that you work, not just the time that is convenient for your employer. Unfortunately, some companies push employees into doing uncompensated labor by making them wait to clock into work until they have finished certain tasks or requiring that they clock out before finishing their work for the day. Your employer cannot demand that you do any sort of work without pay.
They won’t pay you overtime because of your salary, but your salary is low
One of the easiest ways to exempt employees from overtime pay requirements involves making them salaried employees. However, just receiving a salary doesn’t automatically preclude someone from claiming overtime wages. Workers need to make more than $684 a week or $35,568 a year to be exempt from overtime pay requirements.
They tried to deny you overtime because you didn’t get approval first
Plenty of companies have internal policies that prohibit workers from performing overtime without company approval. Although the company can require that you not work overtime, they must then be proactive about making sure your schedule never requires that you put in more than 40 hours.
If you are about to leave your last shift for the week after accruing 39 and a half hours, and someone calls in sick, your manager might ask you to stay for another half shift. If you continue working, they have to pay you regardless of the company’s internal policy on the matter.
Recognizing when you have the right to bring an overtime claim against your employer can help you stand up for your rights and fight back against the unfair theft of your wages.