Class-action suit can recover unpaid overtime for misclassified workers

When an employer violates an employee's workplace rights, a lawsuit can help set things right. But, sometimes it is not worth the trouble for a worker to individually bring his or her own lawsuit for an employment matter. Imagine that an employee was denied overtime pay for a series of weeks. While the employee is entitled to an overtime premium by law, paying legal costs to recover a few hundred dollars might not be a wise investment of time and resources.

On the other hand, when the rights of one employee have been violated, it is likely that other workers at the organization have been similarly mistreated. Class-action employment attorneys specialize in bringing the claims of these similarly situated workers together to redress them all at once. Often, all it takes is one employee contacting an attorney to get the ball rolling on real change through a class-action lawsuit. With a class-action, an employee who speaks up about a violation does not have to bear the burden of bringing an individual lawsuit.

Class-actions can address a variety of problems in the employment context. But, one of the most common issues that gives rise to a legitimate employment law complaint and subsequently a class-action lawsuit is misclassification of workers accompanied by failure to pay the legally mandating overtime premium.

At least time-and-a-half is required for non-exempt employees for hours over 40

The Fair Labor Standards Act, among other things, requires employers to pay workers an overtime pay rate of at least one-and-one-half-times their normal hourly rate of pay. The overtime pay rate typically must be paid for work done in excess of 40 hours in a given week. Certain employees, however, are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act.

It can be difficult to determine whether an employee is exempt from the overtime pay requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Workers earning less than $23,600 annually are almost always non-exempt (meaning they must be paid an overtime premium) whereas those who take home more than $100,000 are typically exempt; those who take home earnings in the middle of this range are more difficult to classify.

An analysis of job duties may be required to determine whether employees should correctly be classified as exempt (paid on a salary basis without an overtime premium) or non-exempt (paid on an hourly basis, with an overtime premium required for work done in excess of 40 hours in a given week). Naturally, when in doubt, many employers tend to err on the side of not having to pay overtime and classify workers as exempt.

Band together with similarly situated coworkers to recover unpaid overtime

If your employer has been having you work more than 40 hours per week and has not been paying you an overtime premium, if it is later shown that you were subjected to misclassification under the Fair Labor Standards Act and should have been non-exempt, your employer must pay you the required premium for any previously worked overtime. This can easily add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and if other workers have been similarly denied an overtime premium, it may make sense to band together in a class-action.

An employment law attorney can help you address wage violations and related workplace legal issues. Get in touch with an employment law attorney today if you think you may have been wrongly denied overtime pay.