Withholding Overtime Pay – What Are My Rights in the Service Workers Industry?

In today’s struggling economy, overtime pay for an employee can make the difference at the end of the month between black ink and red ink. Sometimes, workers put in more than 40 hours a week and, if so, they should be compensated accordingly. Employees have strong rights to overtime pay.

This is a frequent concern for employees in the service workers industry. The service worker industry encompasses any number of professions including, but not limited to: nurse’s aides, cleaners, servers in restaurants, elevator operators, security guards, stewards, janitors, hospital attendants, porters, amusement park attendants, guides, ushers, public transportation attendants, and comparable workers.

Fortunately for workers, they have the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at their back. Whether or not an employee is eligible for overtime is not up to the employer. It’s up to the government! There are both federal and state laws governing overtime.

About Non-Exempt and Exempt

The government divides most jobs between ‘non-exempt’ and ‘exempt.’ Most workers in the U.S. economy are non-exempt. That means employers are mandated to pay them overtime wages when they work more than 40 hours in one week. If employers do not pay the overtime, they are in violation of the law and are open to employee legal claims. Exempt employees tend to be more highly paid, upper management workers with executive and ministerial duties. There are some exceptions to the FLSA exemption rules, but most jobs are covered.

Contact a labor law attorney in New Jersey for more information about whether you fall under the FLSA exemption rules.

How Much Is Overtime Pay?

The federally mandated rate of overtime is 1 ½ times the amount of the employee’s hourly wage. If an employee’s hourly wage is $20.00 an hour, one hour of overtime is $30.00. Thus, if that employee works three hours of overtime, then he is entitled to $90.00 in overtime pay in addition to normal pay. One reason overtime pay is 150% of the hourly rate is that the government does not want workers exploited. If employers truly want and need overtime, they should pay a premium for it.

Types of Overtime Wage Violations

There can be several different violations of the overtime rules such as not paying overtime in general; failing to pay at the correct rate; or withholding the overtime pay for an illegal reason such as retaliation or coercion.

What are some of the ways employers try to dodge paying overtime wages? Sometimes employers deliberately ‘misclassify’ an employee as exempt when they should be non-exempt. Or the employer may not actually count the overtime hours worked. Also, an employer may also ‘miscalculate’ the hourly wages. It’s true that employers can make honest mistakes — or it may be a combination of skullduggery and ignorance. Either way, employees should assert their rights to overtime pay if they believe it is justified.

Sometimes an employer will outright misrepresent the truth and tell an employee at the outset that they are not entitled to overtime with some vaguely plausible reason. An employer might tell a new worker that overtime pay is only for salaried workers and not hourly workers, or vice versa. Not true! If you are unsure of your status and think you have gotten the run around from your employer but don’t want to rock the boat at work, it behooves you to seek clarification from a labor law attorney in New Jersey.

Typically, if you prevail in an overtime claim, you can collect not only your due overtime wages, but ‘liquidated damages’ as well – an amount equal to what you were owed. On top of that, you can collect all costs and your attorney fees. Usually there is a two-year statute of limitations for filing these claims.

Contact New Jersey Labor Law Lawyers

If you work in the service workers industry and believe that you have not been receiving your legitimate overtime pay, you are legally entitled to claim back these wages. Know your rights and make sure you’re not being exploited. There are limited deadlines for filing a complaint or lawsuit for these types of claims.

John J. Zidziunas & Associates have an experienced team of New York and New Jersey labor law lawyers who know and understand your rights. For further information, please feel free to call us at 973-509-8500, email info@jjzlawfirm.com, or visit our webpage at http://employmentdiscrimination.com/.