How Can I Collect Back Pay If My Employer Owes Me Overtime?
Employees who are paid an hourly wage are entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Unfortunately, some employers fail or refuse to pay workers the overtime they’ve earned. When you haven’t been paid the overtime you deserve, what are your options for collecting back pay?
Non-Exempt Employees Entitled to Back Pay
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which covers nearly all employers in Georgia and across the country, any non-exempt employee who works over 40 hours in a workweek is entitled to overtime pay for all hours worked above 40 hours. Overtime pay is often referred to as “time-and-a-half,” meaning you should receive one-and-a-half times your normal hourly wage for every hour of overtime or fraction thereof that you work in a workweek where you work more than 40 hours.
Certain employees are exempt from the employer’s obligation to pay overtime. These “salaried” employees typically include executives, licensed professionals such as doctors or lawyers, highly skilled workers such as computer programmers, and teachers. The FLSA sets forth categories of workers who may be exempted from overtime rules and the qualifications for each category. One common way that employers attempt to avoid paying workers overtime involves misclassifying workers into one of the categories of exempt workers.
If you think you are entitled to overtime pay that you haven’t received, you can bring a claim against your employer for the overtime wages you are owed, also known as back pay. A back pay claim begins with filing a claim with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which will investigate your claim. If the WHD determines that you are owed back pay for overtime, it will issue an order to your employer to pay the overtime wages the agency has calculated you are owed.
When Should I File a Lawsuit?
Most employers make up back pay owed for overtime upon receiving an order from the WHD. If your employer refuses or contests the order, you may need to file an FLSA lawsuit against your employer. However, your ability to file a lawsuit may be limited if your co-workers have already filed a class-action suit against your employer, or if the Secretary of Labor has filed suit against your employer to recover your back pay.
A successful back pay lawsuit for overtime wages under the FLSA may entitle you to recover several types of compensation, including:
- Back pay – At a minimum, you will be awarded the overtime pay you’ve earned under the terms of the FLSA. If your employer failed to pay you any wages for overtime hours, you’ll be awarded one-and-a-half times your hourly wage for all overtime you worked. If your employer only paid you your regular wage for overtime hours, you’ll receive one-half of your hourly wage to make up the difference.
- Interest – You may also be entitled to an award of interest for all back pay, according to the statutory interest rate set forth by state law.
- Penalties – Finally, you may also receive an award of penalties based on the circumstances of your employer’s violation. For example, if the court finds that your employer acted willfully or not in good faith in failing to pay overtime, the court may double your award of back pay under the liquidated damages provision of the FLSA, in lieu of awarding you interest.
Contact the Vaughn Law Firm Today
If you believe you are owed overtime pay by your employer, contact the federal employment lawyers of the Vaughn Law Firm online or give us a call at (877) 615-9495 today for a free, no-obligation consultation with a skilled attorney. Learn more about your legal options for pursuing the compensation you deserve for your hard work.