Thousands of people just like you wake up every day and put in an honest day’s work, but there is often a feeling in the back of your mind that you are not paid correctly. You probably put in long hours at work, but your paycheck always seems to fall short for some reason.
Employees need to be aware that employers will often try to cut corners with employee paychecks by shaving their true hours or categorizing them under “new” exemptions. This can often happen in a down economy. If you think you are overworked and underpaid, keep reading to learn what you can do about it.
1. You put in more than 40 hours a week, but you are not paid overtime.
Employers save thousands of dollars a year by denying workers overtime, usually with the following overtime scams:
- categorizing an employee is exempt,
- averaging workweeks,
- misclassifying workers as independent contractors,
- paying workers a flat salary,
- making employees work through their lunch break.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that non-exempt employees must be paid time-and-a-half for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. This is federal law and almost 90 percent of workers are covered under it nationwide.
2. You are paid a salary.
This can be a warning sign that your employer is paying you incorrectly. If you are paid a salary that means you are categorized under an FLSA exemption. But many times employers apply exemptions incorrectly, and often intentionally, to deny employees overtime. In court, when employers cannot prove the exemption status you can be eligible to receive your back wages owed for two years, or three years for willful violations. Also, an employer cannot say that part of a workers’ salary includes overtime pay. Overtime pay is in addition to a worker’s salary.
3. You are paid straight time for overtime.
Overtime pay is supposed to be 1.5 times your regular rate of pay for all hours over 40 worked. For example, if you are paid $10 per hour and you work 50 hours one week, then you are owed your regular pay rate of $10 for the first 40 hours, and $15 for each of the hours over 40. Many times, we find that employers pay only straight time, or regular pay rates, for overtime, which is illegal for non-exempt employees.
4. Your “bonus” could be calculated wrong.
Many employers tell employees that their bonuses already include their overtime rate of pay. Under the FLSA, employers must take into account all work-related payments for both hourly and salaried employees to calculate your correct regular rate of pay, which affects your overtime rate.
Read more: Find Out When Bonuses Should Be Calculated into Your Regular Pay Rate to determine your Overtime Rate
5. You are paid with a fluctuating workweek.
This is also known as “Chinese overtime”, "variable workweek" or "half-time". Under this method an employee is paid a fixed salary no matter how many hours are worked. This is a legal method to pay employees, but there are several requirements that have to be met in order for it to apply, and employers use it wrong all the time. We can identify wage violations with this method simply by reviewing your pay stubs.
Read more: 5 ways your employer might be violating the fluctuating work week or "Chinese overtime" law.
6. Being paid a piece-rate for all hours worked.
Employees paid on a piece-rate basis are paid a certain amount for a fixed amount of work regardless of how many hours the job takes. But non-exempt employees are still eligible to be paid overtime pay and federal minimum wage. We currently represent cable contractors in a wage and hour case who were paid only a piece-rate basis without overtime compensation.
What rights do you have under the FLSA?
If you are ready to take action against unfair wages or unpaid overtime contact our employment lawyers today at 1-888-449-2068 to start a free, no-obligation case review.You can also order our free wage and overtime book to learn more about wage claims.
We have helped thousands of workers in every industry to recover their unpaid wages nationwide. We have successfully represented nurses, tipped employees, paralegals, service technicians, and many other workers.