Filing an Overtime Claim

The overtime claims process is designed to be fairly straightforward. However, the factual analysis that government agencies and courts undertake in considering these claims - and the legal arguments for and against the claims – can be very complicated. That's why it's a good idea for a worker who thinks he or she has been wrongly denied overtime pay to consult an experienced Chicago overtime lawyer before filing a claim.

A wide range of workers, including those who earn tips and many who are paid a salary, are entitled to overtime pay for all working hours after 40 in a particular workweek. The overtime wage typically mandated under federal and state law is one-and-a-half times the worker’s normal pay rate. For example, a covered worker who usually earns $20 an hour has to be paid $30 an hour for all time worked beyond the 40-hour mark.

The Fair Labor Standards Act is the federal law that requires employers to pay workers covered under it overtime wages. A worker denied overtime pay can file a claim with the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) wage and hour division by mail or in person. The complaint must generally be filed within two years (three when alleging that the employer willfully refused to pay overtime) and include basic identifying information, the worker's method and rate of pay, and a description of the alleged violation. Documents like a W-2 or pay stubs are helpful in proving a claim.

After reviewing the claim, the DOL determines whether the employee was eligible for overtime and was performing work covered under the FLSA, as well as whether the payment he or she received complied with the law. If the Department determines that it has a reasonable belief that a potential violation has occurred, it proceeds with an investigation of the employer and may seek to recover back wages on behalf of the worker. The employee also retains the right to sue the employer for unpaid overtime.

Illinois follows a similar claims process, allowing workers who are owed back wages for unpaid overtime to file a complaint with the state's labor department, also by mail or in person.

Before filing a claim with the federal or state authorities, an employee should consider whether he or she may be "exempt" under the applicable law and therefore not entitled to overtime pay. Exempt employees are typically those who perform executive or administrative jobs as well as workers in outside sales and some technology positions. In determining whether a particular worker is exempt, courts look at the employee's specific job duties without regard to job title.

The Chicago overtime attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law center have extensive experience representing all kinds of workers in making claims for overtime at both the state and federal level. Serving clients throughout the country, our practice is dedicated to ensuring that the workers we fight for earn an honest and accurate wage for all of the time they spend doing their jobs. Contact us online or call (312) 869-4095 to set up a confidential, no-cost consultation with an overtime lawyer in the Chicago area.