The IRS estimates that thousands of workers are misclassified by their employers every year - robbing them of hundreds or thousands in lost pay every year.
Job creation is one of the most important issues on the political agenda and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the following 15 jobs accounted for more than 25 percent of total U.S. employment, making them the most popular areas for growth. If you work in these industries, one of your concerns may be how much you are paid.
But most people rarely stop to ask if they are paid correctly. Should you really be salaried? Are you really exempt from receiving overtime pay? When people do take the time to find out, the truth can shock them.
Our employment lawyers have given a description of the most common jobs and how employees are generally supposed to be paid under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Read on to see if you have been a victim of wage theft.
1. Retail salespeople
Many famous retail companies have been brought to court for wage and hour violations. Among the violations are: Off-the-clock work, overtime violations, failure to record hours worked, and improper use of exemptions.
Many retail jobs are commission-based, in which case you should also know the wage laws for commissioned employees.
Low wage workers are frequently denied their proper wages and overtime pay by companies who purposely break the law or who have no idea how they should pay employees. Either way, this robs you out of your hard-earned money on every check.
3. Office clerks
Employers large and small have problems applying correct overtime pay for office workers. Many employers try to get away with using the “Administrative Exemption”, but this is generally not applicable since one of the requirements for that to apply is: "The employee's primary duty must be directly related to the operations of the company."
4. Food Preparation / Food Service Workers
The supermarket and restaurant industry is notorious for wage and overtime violations. Overtime violations and minimum wage violations are the most common instances of wage theft in this line of work. If you are a tipped employee make sure you are not a victim of illegal tip pools.
5. Registered Nurses
Nurses and healthcare workers are frequently denied overtime because they are “salaried” employees, but this is simply not true. Automatic lunch deductions are a common practice in this industry, and can rob you of your hard-earned wages. If you are an hourly paid registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN) the chances are likely that you are eligible to receive overtime pay. Employers often cannot prove the requirements of the learned professional exemption that they apply to nurses under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
6. Waiters / Waitresses
Tipped employees are at the greatest risk of wage theft, with employers involving them in illegal tip pools and sharing their tips with workers who do not normally receive tips. There are three tests employers must meet in order to have a valid tip pool and all too often employers get it wrong, denying hard-working servers and waiters their proper wages.
7. Customer Service Representatives
Make sure you are paid correctly in this industry, as many employers try to place you under the Administrative Exemption. Call center employees can also be affected by employers who misclassify them under the wage laws by categorizing employees under an exemption that does not apply to them. We have successfully represented call center workers in wage and hour claims.
8. Material Movers
This can include a variety of workers, including machine operators, laborers or inspectors. This can include the construction industry, petroleum industry, and port or dock workers. Many workers in these industries can be paid a piece-rate or per diem rates – but employers often pay workers incorrectly under these methods.
We successfully represented a class of hundreds of janitors in a wage and hour claim in 13 states. All of the janitors were paid straight time for overtime hours, a big no-no for hourly, non-exempt employees.
10. Stock clerks
Some employers deny overtime to stock clerks by calling employees “assistant stock managers” or just give them management titles to make them think they are not owed overtime. In reality, these workers are generally eligible to receive their overtime rate if they work over 40 hours a week.
Beware of the Administrative Exemption. Many employers like to abuse it and peg hourly office workers under the exemption when they should be paid overtime. Paralegals are often denied overtime, but we have successfully represented paralegals in wage and hour claims against their employers.
12. Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks
Anyone with the task of keeping the books is usually not exempt from receiving overtime pay. One of the requirements of using the Administrative Exemption is that your primary duty must be the performance of non-manual or office work directly related to the “management” or “general business operations” of the employer or the employer’s customers.
13. General managers
If your employer gives you the “manager” title, but your work does not entail supervising employees or making discretionary management decisions, you could be eligible to receive overtime pay. Many employers give workers the Manager title in order to avoid paying overtime,even when your job duties have not changed at all.
14. Tractor-trailer truck drivers
Many times, drivers takes the word of the company they work for when they are told that they are not entitled to overtime pay. They accept this as a fact because they want to keep their jobs. But there are many factors besides the government agency regulations that determine whether or not a truck driver is entitled to overtime.
Read more: When Is a Truck Driver Entitled to Overtime Pay
15. Elementary school teachers
Teachers can generally be categorized under the Creative Professional exemption:
- if their main duty is teaching, tutoring, instruction, and
- if they are employed as a teacher in an educational institution.
Unfair pay affects workers in every industry, but with an uncertain job market many people are afraid to speak up about unpaid overtime, unfair pay, or stolen wages. But the law makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against you in a wage and hour claim.
What can you do about unpaid overtime, or unfair pay?
If you are not paid overtime, or if you believe you have been paid unfairly, contact our employment attorneys to start a free, no obligation case review. We can discuss your job duties and how you are paid to quickly determine if you are being paid unfairly. Contact us toll-free at 1-888-449-2068 or send us a contact form. We know this is a sensitive matter and we keep everything confidential.
We have successfully represented workers in wage and hour claims nationwide. You can also order our free book, The 10 Biggest Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Wage and Overtime Claim.