In 2017, Victoria's Secret paid out $12 million in an overtime lawsuit to compensate workers who worked without pay. That very same year, MetLife paid out $50 million in a similar lawsuit. From retail to insurance, people are overworked and underpaid by management that suggest it's necessary and harshly punish overtime work.
By 22 years old, we have all been in a workplace that pushed us to work outside of compensation in some way. The implication of losing our jobs and promises that our work shows loyalty in the company quickly brainwash us that working without overtime is an accepted industry practice. It is not.
Federal and State laws govern the manner in which employees are to be paid. Generally, unless otherwise "exempt" from overtime compensation, most employees must be paid minimum wage, plus overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek. The 'exemptions" available under the law are limited.
Many of us, especially in the service, hospitality, and retail industry are hourly workers and are not exempt from overtime compensation. You have the right to be paid for your work and you should seek out legal assistance if you feel you've been compensated unfairly and illegally.
Who Falls Under Overtime Rules?
Salaried employees are actually subject to overtime pay requirements, but there are many exemptions. It's also important to note that there are federal and state laws governing compensation, and which ones you need to know. A good rule of thumb: Follow the most restrictive law. So, if the state compensation laws are more restrictive than the federal, those are the standard. If they are less restrictive, follow the federal. It will most always lean towards which regulation favors the employee's rights.
If you are an hourly employee, then you are most certainly covered under overtime compensation regulations. One of the most well-known benefits to overtime is the time and half compensation – which is why employers don't like overtime. There are exceptions to this rule as well, but they must be agreed to by both employer and employee.
When is Overtime Counted as… Overtime?
Overtime is mostly counted on a weekly basis. For instance, if you work 12 hours on Monday and then 5 hours on Tuesday-Friday, you won't qualify for overtime pay because it's still under 40 hours a week. There are a few states, like California, that count overtime on a daily basis. So anything over 8 hours in one day will be time and a half!
For those who are curious about employment and compensation laws, visit the United States Department of Labor site to find out more about your federal and state regulations. For those of you that have been worked unfairly and are ready to make a change, visit the aforementioned site to learn all you can, prepare your evidence (detailed below), and seek out legal representation.
What You Need to Do
As with most situations involving your workplace and unethical and/or illegal behaviors, document everything. The more you have on record, the better your chances of winning any lawsuits. Additionally, ensure you're the closest thing to a perfect employee. Most people are nervous to pursue a wrongdoing against a company when they themselves are involved in wrongdoing or shoddy work.
Compensation lawyers can help guide you through the process. If you're unsure of what you should have as evidence, approach them and they can give specific examples. Finally, be prepared for retaliation. It's illegal and unfair, but companies and management find a way to make life hell for people who blow the whistle, claim sexual harassment, or press for overtime pay. It's probably the hardest part of these situations, but it's not you at fault. It's them.