What Employees Need to Know: Unpaid Overtime

Unpaid Overtime Attorney

Most people have an idea that if they work outside of normal hours, they should be paid time and a half. What you might not know is that this is a right guaranteed by law. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that you be paid one and a half times your hourly rate if you work more than 40 hours in one week or 80 in two, depending on how your employer pays you. But not all workers are covered by the FLSA. Are you entitled to unpaid overtime? How many years of unpaid overtime are you entitled to? If you receive a salary, can you also receive overtime? Careful review of the FLSA along with the input from an unpaid overtime attorney can help answer these questions.

Unpaid Overtime: Exceptions

Generally, if your employer is engaged in commerce of some kind, they could be liable for unpaid overtime. But it isn’t just the industry your employer is in; it’s also what your job entails. The FLSA states that those who are employed in administrative or professional capacities are not entitled to unpaid overtime. If you are employed as an administrative assistant, even if you work at a high-end retail chain, your employer is not obligated to pay you at an overtime rate. At the same time, if your job requires a college degree of some kind, your employer does not have to pay you overtime. However, if administrative/professional tasks are not your sole job function, you might be entitled to unpaid overtime. 

Let’s say that you are employed as an administrative assistant for a retail store. As part of your job, you might file sales reports, maintain business records, or otherwise perform the administrative duties required to keep the store functioning properly. But your job might also involve customer service when the store requires all hands on deck. If you work overtime for the week, you perform retail tasks, you might be entitled to unpaid overtime. The FLSA has a formula to find out; if you spend 60% or more of your time working on administrative tasks, you are not entitled to unpaid overtime. So, let’s say that over Black Friday week, you worked 50 hours. During that time, you performed multiple retail tasks. 60% of 50 would be 30, so if you worked 21 hours or more performing retail tasks, you are entitled to overtime for that week.

Other exceptions include certain theme park employees, fisherman, agricultural workers, newspaper employees, and computer science workers. Those who work in those fields are not eligible for unpaid overtime under the FLSA.

Unpaid Overtime: Salaried Employees

If you receive a salary and are not performing tasks related to the above exceptions for 60% or more of your time, you may be entitled to unpaid overtime. If you are paid the same flat fee regardless of the time you work, the FLSA provides a formula to determine your unpaid overtime. First, you take your salary (let’s say $600.00) and divide it by the number of hours you worked that week (let’s say 50). That gives you your hourly rate, which in this case would be $12.00 an hour. You determine the overtime rate by dividing that number in half, which would be $6.00. Multiply that by the time you worked overtime (10 hours) and you have the unpaid overtime that you earned ($60.00). For that week, you are owed $660.00 for the hours you worked.

Why hire an unpaid overtime attorney?

There are more fields and more tasks which are exempt from overtime. To determine if you are entitled to unpaid overtime, it is best to consult with an unpaid overtime attorney who can help you determine what overtime you are entitled to. Additionally, the FLSA has a statute of limitations on unpaid overtime. The statute of limitations is 2 years, but if the employer acted maliciously that statute is extended to three years. It can be helpful to consult with an unpaid overtime attorney to determine if your employer’s actions were malicious. 

The FLSA entitles you to your unpaid overtime times 2. You could be entitled to thousands of dollars of damages because of unpaid overtime. So, if you believe that you are entitled to unpaid overtime, it is worth it to consult with an unpaid overtime attorney.