Federal and state laws give most employees the right to be paid overtime, to work for at least the minimum hourly rate, and to collect their earned wages. Unfortunately, employers too often fail to pay employees the wages to which they are entitled. When that happens, the Buckley Law Group helps employees recover their unpaid wages and appropriate penalties.
FLSA AND UNPAID OVERTIME LAWS
Federal law gives all nonexempt employees the right to be paid overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires nearly all employers to pay one-and-a-half times the normal hourly rate for hours that employees work in excess of 40 during the weekly pay period.
Some employers expect employees to work through lunch, to stay late to finish a project, or to work on their own time. For example, an employer might expect employees to make deliveries on their way home after the workday ends. In any case, whenever an employee is required or allowed to work for an employer, the employee is entitled to be paid for that work.
When the extra work is above and beyond the standard 40 hours in a workweek, the employer is required by the FLSA to pay time-and-a-half for those overtime hours. There is no such thing as “volunteering” to do extra work for free. If an employee is working for an employer and the employer knows about it, the employer is required to pay for that work.
In many cases, the FLSA allows employees to collect double the amount of overtime that they earned but did not receive. The unpaid overtime lawyers at the Buckley Law Group help employees recover “double back pay” in appropriate cases.
Employers also sometimes try to avoid paying overtime by misclassifying an employee as exempt from overtime laws or as an independent contractor. Our lawyers also help employees receive the full wages they earned despite their status misclassification.
EMPLOYEE MISCLASSIFICATIONS & EXEMPTIONS
Certain employees are exempt from overtime and other wage laws. The most common exemptions apply to executive, administrative, and professional employees. Inside salespersons who earn commissions can also be classified as exempt; although, most do not satisfy the federal standard.
An employer may not classify an employee as exempt unless the employee satisfies the legal standards that define the exemption. One standard requires an exempt executive, administrative, or professional employee to be paid a salary. If they are paid an hourly wage, then they cannot be classified as exempt. The salary must meet the minimum amount set by current federal law. In addition, the employee’s job duties must meet the requirements that federal law specifies for the exemption.
Employers sometimes classify an employee as exempt based on a job title rather than the employee’s actual duties. For example, an employer might designate a secretary as an “executive secretary” to avoid paying overtime without giving the secretary the kind of discretion, independence, and authority that the legal standard defining the exemption requires.
When employers base exemptions on job titles or position descriptions rather than the actual job duties the employee performs, they may violate the law by misclassifying employees. The same is true when they treat all commissioned salespersons as exempt without determining whether the salesperson qualifies for the exemption.
Misclassification causes employees to lose substantial income overtime they earned but never received. Experienced lawyers at The Buckley Law Group help employees recover their lost overtime wages, as well as appropriate penalties, when they have been the victims of misclassification. In appropriate cases, when a large number of similar employees have been misclassified by the same employer, we pursue class action remedies to help all the employees receive the overtime they deserve.
MISCLASSIFICATION AS AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR
Some employers avoid paying overtime by classifying an employee as an independent contractor. Self-employed, independent contractors usually set their own hours, decide whether and how to do a particular job, furnish their own tools, and have more than one client.
When a worker performs services primarily for one client, is given explicit instructions about when and how to perform the work, works at a designated job site, and is subject to substantial supervision, the worker might not meet the legal standard to be classified as an independent contractor. Rather, the worker might be considered an employee even if the employer treats the worker as an independent contractor.
By misclassifying workers as independent contractors, employers not only avoid paying overtime and minimum wage but also avoid paying the employer’s share of social security taxes. They also save money on workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance.
Employees who have been misclassified as independent contractors may be entitled to collect unpaid overtime, minimum wage, payroll tax contributions, and penalties. The employment attorneys at The Buckley Law Group help employees obtain a remedy when they have been misclassified as independent contractors. We also bring class action lawsuits when the same employer has misclassified a substantial number of its employees as independent contractors.
UNPAID WAGES AND COMMISSIONS
In some cases, an employer simply fails to pay wages or commissions that an employee has earned. Circumstances include:
- Requiring an employee to work “off the clock”
- Requiring an employee to work during an unpaid lunch break
- Making unauthorized deductions from a paycheck
- Withholding a final paycheck
- Failing to compute commissions correctly
- Failing to pay earned bonuses
- Failing to honor an agreement regarding vacation pay
- Failing to honor an agreement to provide earned benefits
Some wage claims arise under state law. Others can be raised under both state and federal law. For instance, the failure to pay earned wages might be a breach of contract under state law, as well as a failure to pay minimum wage or overtime under federal law.
Contact an Unpaid Overtime Lawyer Today
The Buckley Law Group evaluates each case to determine whether a worker may be able to bring a successful wage claim. Our unpaid overtime lawyers then determine whether the claim should be brought in state or federal court, under state or federal law (or both), or as a class action. For a free consultation and evaluation of your claim for unpaid wages, commissions, or overtime compensation, contact The Buckley Law Group today.