Across the country, many workers in a variety of professions are entitled to overtime pay for all of the time they spend on the job after 40 hours in a given week. Many, however, may not know they should be getting paid at a higher rate for this time. Often employers rely on unlawful scams and shoddy record keeping to avoid paying overtime. If you believe that you've been wrongly denied overtime pay, it is important to consult a knowledgeable and experienced Chicago overtime lawyer to determine your rights and consider your options.
Federal and state laws generally require employers to pay covered employees overtime at a rate of 1.5 times the worker's normal pay rate. Thus, a worker who typically earns $30 an hour must be paid $45 an hour for all time worked beyond 40 hours during the week. The law does not require overtime pay for a person who works a certain number of hours in a single day, nor those working weekends or holidays, unless it puts the worker over the 40-hour mark.
At the Chicago Overtime Law Center, our Illinois overtime attorneys have represented a wide variety of workers in state and federal claims for unpaid overtime. We understand overtime laws and the scams that employers often use to try to avoid them.
The reason overtime scams often work is that they are presented as company "policy." An unsuspecting employee who is not fully aware of his or her rights under the law may simply not realize that he or she is being denied compensation lawfully earned. Here are some of the most common overtime scams:
- Misclassification: Employers regularly deny workers the opportunity to earn overtime by wrongly classifying them as "exempt" under the applicable laws. In reality, exemption applies to a fairly narrow slice of the workforce, which can include certain professional and administrative employees as well as outside sales persons and technology workers. Although exemption depends on the worker's actual duties, rather than job title, an employer may try to classify a particular group of workers as exempt by simply giving them a fancy title.
- "Off the Clock" Hours: In this scam, an employer requires a worker to perform certain job tasks "off the clock," before or after the worker's scheduled shift. Similarly, an employer may assign "take home" work to be completed after hours and offsite. Both practices are violations of federal and state overtime laws.
- Comp Time for Overtime: Private employers may attempt to offer compensation time (paid leave) in lieu of overtime pay; this is not permissible.
- Unpaid Travel Time: Non-exempt workers who travel to various locations during their workdays must be paid for this time.
- Record Keeping: Sometimes poor record keeping is not intentional. Other times, it's a way to mask unlawful practices, such as denying an employee the overtime pay he or she has earned. Procedures like combining more than one week on a single paycheck are generally allowable, but should be closely monitored.
If you have been victimized by any of these scams or otherwise denied the overtime pay you legally earned, contact the wage and hour attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center. Call (312) 869-4095 or contact us online today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our Chicago overtime attorneys.