Our Frequently Asked Questions Section Gives You the Information You Need to Know About

Have questions about your legal matter and are afraid to ask? If so, head on over to our FAQ section in which we tackle a variety of important topics that matter to you. Find answers to questions regarding car accidents, medical malpractice, unpaid overtime, and a variety of other legal subjects that may be affecting you. 
  • Page 8
  • Should I be paid for the meetings the gas company requires that I attend before my shift begins?

    This is a question that comes up for many oil and gas employees in Texas—and for shift workers in all kinds of industries across the nation. If your employer requires that you attend a quick meeting before your shift begins, over your lunch hour, or after you’ve clocked out for the day, it should be a major sign that there is a problem.

    Many employers in the oil and gas industry don’t take meetings seriously and don’t count team meetings or training sessions as “real work,” even though these sessions are mandatory. The time employees spend in these sessions isn’t paid, and in most cases, it isn’t even recorded. However, employers are legally required to pay employees for all the time they spend at work or performing mandatory work-related duties. If your employer requires that you perform any unpaid work-related duties before your “real” work begins, there’s a very good chance that it is breaking the law—and you may be able to recover the unpaid wages and overtime pay you are entitled to for that time.

    Holding Employers Responsible for Unpaid Wages and Overtime

    Many workers immediately turn to the Department of Labor to recover their unpaid wages, but these claims are often settled for far less than they are worth. Although most workers are happy to simply receive some portion of the wages they were illegally denied, the law allows workers to seek additional damages to help hold employers responsible for ignoring the law. For more answers and information about maximizing your claim for unpaid wages, schedule a free, no-obligation case review with our experienced Houston legal team today. 

     

  • If I refuse to work overtime, can the hospital I work for fire me?

    Seven more minutes. Seven more minutes and you get to go home. Today has been absolutely grueling. From the moment you stepped foot on the floor you’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. You’ve performed six skin biopsies, taken over 20 vitals, started a dozen IVs, and discharged close to 30 patients. You were able to grab a few bites of your sandwich in between blood draws, but you’ve been running at full speed for the last eight hours.Five more minutes.

    You finish writing up your reports and double checking clinical sheets—making sure everything is done.

    Three minutes.

    You sign your reports and make sure you pop in to say goodnight to all of your patients.

    One minute.

    You make your way down the hall to the staff locker room, when your boss stops you. She tells you that the night shift is understaffed and that she would appreciate it if you could stay for another four hours. You tell her that you’re absolutely exhausted and that you would prefer to go home and get some rest before your next shift. She responds by telling you that if she has to she’ll mandate the shift. However, if you volunteer now then she’ll remember the gesture, but if you refuse, she’ll remember that as well—especially during reviews.

    What are you supposed to do? You can barely see straight but your boss is basically threatening you if you don’t stay. Do you have to work mandatory overtime (OT)? What will happen if you refuse?

    Consequences of Refusing Overtime

    On a daily basis, nurses are asked if they would like to stay beyond their eight-hour shifts, or willingly volunteer to stay over for overtime. Depending on their employer’s discretion, they are either granted OT hours or not, but either way it is up to the nurse decide whether or not she wishes to work. Occasionally, emergency situations arise where units are understaffed, the workload is underestimated, or patients arrive late, requiring employees to stay to accommodate the workload. However, these situations are still volunteer-based and no matter what your employer tells you, they aren’t considered mandatory.

    The Safe Hospitals Staffing Law, which prohibits hospitals from requiring nurses to work overtime, went into effect on September 1, 2009. Therefore, with the exception of working during extreme cases such as natural disasters and outbreaks—mandating, threatening, or pressuring you into working overtime is illegal. The law also states that:

    • Hospitals may no longer require registered nurses (RNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) to work mandatory overtime. This doesn’t include home healthcare or nursing home nurses.
    • Nurses are authorized to refuse to work mandatory overtime.
    • Hospitals are prohibited from using on-call time as a substitute for mandatory overtime. 
    • Allows nurses to have the option of volunteering to work overtime

    Stopping OT Persecution

    Although it is illegal for your employer to require you to work past your shift, some employers may try to intimidate you into volunteering by threatening job, shifts, workload, and even your promotional aspirations. Not only is this illegal, but it is truly bad form. If you believe that your employer has threatened or forced you to work overtime, or has punished you for refusing to work OT, contact us today.

    Our vast experience and knowledge with overtime law can help you fight back and get the justice, compensation, and respect you deserve. Call now!

    Need more information about your OT rights? Request our free book, 10 Biggest Mistakes that can Hurt Your Wage and Overtime Claim, or feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus for periodic updates and advice.

     

  • I am an exotic dancer in Houston who was told by my boss that since we make so much money in tips, we are not entitled to any hourly wages. Is this allowed?

    No, this is not allowed. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), even exotic dancers are entitled to a fair hourly wage in Texas, regardless of the amount of money they make in tips each week. 

    Strippers are covered by the FLSA, which means they must be paid at least minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour. Depending on club or disco that employs the exotic dancers, it is possible that the employer may decide to take the federal tip credit of $5.12, giving them the option to pay the dancers $2.13 per hour. This can only be done, however, if the dancers make at least $5.12 per hour in tips, so that when added together they are making at least minimum wage. 

    If they do not make that in tips, the employer is required to pay the difference. 

    It is unfair (and illegal) for employers to misinform their staff about strippers and wage laws, and it is also against the law for club owners to require dancers to pay a nightly fee to work there, to split their tips with the DJ or to give a portion of their income to the bussers or other hourly-paid employees. 

    The best way to learn all of your rights under the FLSA as a Houston stripper is to contact the lawyers at Kennedy Hodges for a completely confidential – and free – consultation. Not only will the lawyers provide you with a list of options to protect your paycheck, but they will also provide you with a free copy of their book, Ten Biggest Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Wage and Overtime Claim, when you call 888.449.2068 or by filling out the online form.

  • Should I be paid for the overtime hours I spend responding to work calls and emails on a company-provided smartphone?

    Mobile technology, like smartphones and tablets, have put many always-connected workers in a difficult situation. Because they’re always available by phone, text, or email, many end up responding to work demands long after they’ve clocked out for the day—and many are specifically issued mobile devices by their employers. Whether it’s your personal phone or a company-issued device, these “off the clock” hours can be a big problem for employees who are always online and on call. 

    Although some exceptions and exemptions apply, most employees are owed overtime compensation for any hours worked over 40 each week—and all the time you spend performing job duties should count. Even if you are taking calls afterhours or from outside of the office, there’s a good chance that you should be compensated for the time you spend doing work online or on the phone—or, at the very least, that your employer should be tracking these hours to ensure appropriate pay under the law.   

    If you’re unsure if you should be receiving overtime pay for the calls and emails you respond to after your scheduled shift or during rest breaks, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for help at 888-449-2068. Because every case is so different, the best way to get definitive answers is to go over the specific details of your situation with an experienced employment attorney. 

    Did you find this article helpful? Let us know! We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ for more news, tips, and up-to-date information about overtime issues and workers’ rights. 

  • Should I be paid overtime as a home alarm technician if I work more than 40 hours a week?

    If you work as an alarm technician and put in more than forty hours in a workweek, you should make sure you are paid overtime pay for every hour over 40. If an alarm company does not pay you overtime you are likely a victim of wage theft.

    Wage theft occurs frequently in the service installation industry and it can take many forms, including:
    • Working more than 40 hours in a workweek, but not receiving overtime pay,
    • Pay violations using the Fluctuating work week pay method,
    • An employer shaving hours off your time sheet,
    • Not being paid for working off-the-clock,
    • Not being paid for working through lunch, or automatic lunch deductions even if you didn’t take a lunch,
    • Being misclassified as an independent contractor.
    If you are an alarm installation technician and you beli8eve you have been a victim of wage theft you have rights to recover your back pay. Under the wage and hour laws employees can recover up to two (and sometimes) three years of back pay from an employer who is found violating wage and labor laws.

    Many employers save a lot of money (and rob you of your pay) by violating the wage laws.
    If you would like more information on recovering your back wages, or if you are unsure if you have a wage claim contact our employment lawyers at 1-888-449-2068 to start a free, no obligation case review today. Our office works on a contingency fee basis, which means unless we obtain a successful recovery in your case you do not owe us anything.

    Read more: Home alarm technicians: Are you at risk of this paycheck threat?

  • Did my employer properly follow the requirements of the WARN Act when laying me off?

    Plant Closings Must Follow the Rules of the Warn ActIf you were recently laid off from your position in the oil and gas industry, your employer may have violated the terms of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. This Act was designed to protect workers from unexpected layoffs by requiring that they receive a certain amount of advance notice. Many employers, however, make mistakes even when they legitimately attempt to comply with the Act.

    4 Common Mistakes of Employers Under the WARN Act

    What are some of the common mistakes that employers make under the Act? The following is an overview:
    1. The employer misunderstands the meaning of the term “plant closing.” It is important to note that under the Act, plant closing does not necessary mean the entire facility must close.
    2. The employer improperly counts part-time and temporary employees for purposes of the WARN Act rules. Under the Act, part-time employees are not counted, whereas temporary employees are. A part-time employee is an employee who works on average fewer than 20 hours per week, or who has been employed for less than 6 of 12 months preceding the date on which notice is required. Further, while part-time employees are not counted for purposes of determining whether the WARN Act is triggered, if it is triggered, the part-time employees are entitled to receive notice if they are being laid off. Temporary workers, who are counted for purposes of determining whether the Act is triggered, are not entitled to such notice.
    3. The employer fails to consider layoffs that occur within 90 days of the proposed layoff or plant closing. While the initial test calls for an employer to review employment losses within a 30-day period of the proposed layoff, layoffs within the 90-day window can be added together to reach the threshold under the Act. It is important for employers to understand when this 90-day window is applicable.
    4. The employer fails to provide additional notice if changes to the layoff plan occur after the initial notice was provided.

    If you determine that your employer violated the WARN Act requirements, liability may exist. We are here to help protect your legal rights. We encourage you to reach out today to learn more at (888) 449-2068.

     

  • How can I tell if I’m classified as an independent contractor?

    There are a few major ways to tell if you’re currently classified as an independent contractor with the company you work for, including:

    • You signed a contractor agreement and receive a 1099 form for tax purposes.
    • You are paid by the project instead of by the hour or on a salary.
    • You do not receive employee benefits such as overtime pay, vacation time, sick time, etc.

    If you have any questions about how you are classified as an employee, our team would be happy to help you determine if you are an independent contractor and what that might mean in relation to your wages and benefits.

    You May Be Classified as an Independent Contractor—But Should You Be?

    Unfortunately, simply finding out that your employer has classified you as a contractor may not answer all of your questions about your paycheck. Many employees are actually misclassified as independent contractors by their employers and should be paid as full employees. While these misclassified contractors miss out on overtime pay and other employee benefits, they do not actually meet the legal requirements for the contractor status their employers are using.

    If you’ve determined that you are classified as an independent contractor but aren’t sure if should be, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for answers. Our law firm has successfully recovered overtime pay for misclassified independent contractors across the nation. If you are ready to take action to claim the pay you deserve, give our friendly team a call today, or simply fill out the confidential contact form on this page.

  • As a field service engineer with a gas company, can I receive overtime pay if I already receive a salary?

    Related Links

    A lot of oil and gas field workers believe that receiving a salary means that they cannot receive overtime pay, but this is simply not true. In fact, many oil and gas workers who receive a salary are still owed overtime, but their employers overlook the extra hours they put in or pressure employees into so-called “off the clock” hours in order to save money. 

    Most oil and gas field workers are not exempt from overtime pay and should be paid for all of the time they put in at work—including time-and-a-half pay for any hours worked over 40 each week. If you are a non-exempt employee under the law, your employer cannot deny you the overtime pay you have earned.

    However, it isn’t always clear if you’ve been affected by a wage violation, and much depends on your individual job duties—regardless of your job title and how you are paid. If you receive a salary, only a thorough review of your situation can provide the answers you need about your pay for “off the clock” hours and eligibility for overtime.  

    If you have questions about unpaid overtime or other potential wage violations, we strongly encourage you to speak with us in a completely free, confidential, and no-obligation case review today. During your free case review, an experienced employment attorney can answer your questions, evaluate your individual circumstances, and provide guidance on the options available to you. To get started, simply reach out to us today at 888-449-2068.

  • I am required to work my oilfield job in 24-hour shifts, am I entitled to compensation for time spent sleeping?

    24 Hour Sign on a Clock FaceIn the oil and gas industry, some employees are required to spend many hours at a stretch “on duty.” In some cases, these shifts may last for longer than 24 hours at a time. When this happens, the employee may need to spend some time sleeping in order to be able to function adequately. How sleep time is treated for purposes of calculating hours worked is important to a wage or overtime violation claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

    5 Important Facts About Sleep Time and the Fair Labor Standards Act

    Determining whether your sleep time is included as part of your hours worked is not always an easy task. The following are five helpful guidelines:

    1. If you are required to be on duty for less than 24 hours, you are considered to be working even if you are allowed to sleep or engage in other personal activities if you are not busy.
    2. If you are required to be on duty for more than 24 hours, you may make an agreement with your employer that allows you to sleep for regularly scheduled periods of time during which you are not considered to be working for purposes of wage and overtime calculations.
    3. If you reach such an agreement with your employer, the sleep time cannot be for period lasting more than eight hours.
    4. In addition, if you reach such an agreement with your employer, the company must supply you with an adequate place to sleep where you will not be interrupted.
    5. If you sleep for less than five hours, the employer is not permitted to reduce your number of hours worked.

    Employees are often at a disadvantage when it comes to fair pay, because there are many ways in which an employer can attempt to avoid the overtime pay obligations laid out under the law. It is therefore crucial for workers to seek legal representation whenever a violation by an employer is suspected. We encourage you to reach out today for more information at (888) 449-2068.

     

  • I spend part of my time at work performing duties that I do not earn tips for. Should I still be making the same wages as when I do earn tips?

    As a tipped employee in a restaurant, hotel, or other place of business, you know that tips can be a little unpredictable. Sometimes, the tips are great, and other times you can go hours without making a single dollar in tips. However, what happens when you receive a tip-earning salary at work, which is usually below minimum wage, when you are not performing tip-earning duties?

    Many tipped employees are used to filling in as needed during slow times, and it’s not unusual to help in the back, work the register, or pitch in to help coworkers. While it is not a problem when it happens once in a while, it may start to feel unfair if it is a regular occurrence. After all, the employees who usually perform this task make far more per hour than you do when tips aren’t figured in. While it can be complicated to determine if you’re being paid correctly for the job duties you perform, it is possible to get answers and potentially recover back pay if there is a problem.

    Overtime laws are very complicated, and sometimes even employers make mistakes. It’s easy to ask a tipped employee to step into other roles when workflow dictates the need, but employers don’t always realize they are also taking advantage of vulnerable employees and breaking the law when this becomes a usual practice. While it’s understood that employees may fill in during busy periods, the law makes it clear that they must be paid appropriately if these additional job duties become a part of their regular terms of employment.

    If you are confused by wage and tip laws, reach out to our team today for fast, personalized assistance with your questions. And, for more information about protecting your rights while you get answers, request your free copy of our book, 10 Biggest Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Wage & Overtime Claim.