How to Avoid Unpaid Overtime Issues

No one likes to work for free. And at some point, everyone wants to go home at the end of their shift. If you work more than 40 hours in a week, you should be getting one and half times your regular rate of pay, called overtime pay. Unfortunately, many employers cheat their workers out of this right.

Identify if You are Entitled to Overtime

Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether you have earned overtime, so get acquainted with your state’s law. In New Jersey, for example, a worker is entitled to overtime pay for working more than 40 hours in a week.

Certain professions are exempted. In New Jersey, those employed in bona fide administrative, executive, professional, or outside sales jobs are exempted. Independent contractors are also exempted. These exemptions are narrow, however, and you should not assume you do not qualify.

Also realize that simply being paid a salary does not automatically exempt you from overtime. Instead, contact your state’s Department of Labor or speak with a wage and hour attorney.

Watch for Red Flags

There are common tricks that employers use to cheat workers out of overtime pay. Watch out for the following:

  • Your employer changes the definition of a workweek. When you start, your workweek might be Monday to Friday, then it shifts from Wednesday to Tuesday. Your employer might be doing this to try and not pay overtime.
  • Your employer averages your hours worked across two or more weeks. This practice is expressly disallowed according to New Jersey statute 12:56-6.2.
  • Your employer gives you comp time instead of overtime pay. Comp time is usually extra hours off, as either vacation or personal time. This practice is allowed only in certain circumstances.
  • Your employer changes your job classification. They might be doing this in an attempt to wedge you into one of the exceptions to the overtime laws.
  • Your employer miscalculates your base rate of pay. Through this tactic, they try to get away with paying you less in overtime than you deserve.

These are only some of the ways employers try to keep from paying overtime. There may be more.

Keep Excellent Records

State and federal laws protect employees from wage theft, but you need to keep careful records. Keep your paystubs and try to get a copy of your timesheet. If you don’t have a timesheet, keep detailed notes about your hours. For example, if someone sees you come into work every day, note their name. Your lawyer might want to talk with them.

Stand Up for Yourself

If your employer has failed to pay overtime, you have options. For example, you can file a wage and hour complaint with the federal Department of Labor or your state’s equivalent office. In New Jersey, you can file a claim here.

You might also be able to file a lawsuit for backpay and other remedies. To learn more, please contact the New Jersey unpaid overtime lawyers at the Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP today.

Serving New York and New Jersey, we have established ourselves as one of the premier employment law firms around. If you have an overtime issue, we can help. Call 609-722-7023 to schedule a consultation.