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When Should I Contact an Overtime Lawyer?

When Should I Contact an Overtime Lawyer?

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When Should I Contact an Overtime Lawyer?

Picture this—you've worked hard, beyond the usual 40 hours, to pay your bills and settle other expenses. The last thing you expect on your payday is a missing paycheck. When that happens, the question of "when should I contact an overtime lawyer?" will cross your mind several times. First of all, you've made the right decision to consider hiring an overtime attorney. But if you're wondering when to make that all-important phone call, you've come to the right place. 

Issues concerning overtime pay usually fall under employment law. According to federal laws, you're entitled to premium pay when you work more than the standard 40 hours a week. But unfortunately, some employers break this law intentionally. 

However, employers may fail to pay their employees overtime pay due to unavoidable reasons in some cases. For example, a computing error could result in an incorrect paycheck. If that's the case, the best thing to do is approach your employer and inform them about the error. 

Employers will rectify the error in most cases, eliminating the need to contact an attorney. However, if an employer disputes your overtime pay request, yet you worked the hours in question, you may need to contact an employment attorney right away. 

You are entitled to payment for the extra hours worked even if you no longer work for that particular employer. This is because federal laws prohibit employers from threatening to fire you when you seek what's rightfully yours. In this case, your salary is rightfully yours; you deserve it for your hard work and dedication. 

How an Overtime Lawyer Can Help

Contacting an overtime lawyer comes with many benefits. Here's everything you need to know before making that important phone call. 

Proving Illegal Conduct

Employment law varies from state to state, although some laws are upheld at the federal level. For this reason, an overtime lawyer can help determine whether your employer broke the law. To prove that the employer did something illegal, an attorney will review your situation in detail.

Federal law states that you're entitled to overtime pay every time you work more than 40 hours in a workweek. The overtime pay is usually 1.5 times your regular pay rate. But, despite being aware of such laws, some employers might attempt to have you work off the clock to avoid paying overtime rates. 

And that's not the only tactic employers use to avoid paying their employees what they're entitled to. We've discussed some of these tactics below. 

Tactics Employers Use to Deny Employees Overtime Pay

Some of these tactics include:

Docking Hours
The only legal payroll deductions are those required by state or federal law. Examples include federal income tax, Medicare, Social Security, and court-ordered wage garnishments. Other than that, your employer will require your permission to deduct your wages. 

Inaccurate Record-Keeping
Some employers may deliberately fail to keep time records to deny their employees overtime pay. As a general rule, always keep a copy of the hours you've worked, documenting the exact shifts worked. This information could come in handy in the event of a dispute regarding your payroll. 

Improper Employee Classification
An exempt employee does not earn overtime pay or qualify for minimum wage. However, such an employee earns a paid salary rather than by the hour. Additionally, their work is usually more executive or professional. As a result, most exempt employees are usually involved in executive, administrative, professional, tech-related, or sales roles. 

Some employers may wrongfully and intentionally classify certain employees as exempt employees to deny them overtime pay. Suppose you're a non-exempt employee, meaning you're eligible for overtime pay. In that case, you need to contact an overtime lawyer if your employer refuses to pay you for the extra hours worked. 

The same also applies to independent contractors; some are usually not eligible for overtime pay. For this reason, some employers intentionally classify their employees as independent contractors to deny them overtime pay. 

Working Off the Clock
This is probably the most common tactic employers use to dock hours off their employee's paychecks. The most unfortunate thing about this tactic is that it could go on for years without suspicion. 

Here's how it works. 

When a rogue employer realizes that you've already worked 40 hours a particular workweek, they'll request you to complete certain tasks off the clock. For example, if your employer asks you to come in an hour early to respond to emails or help clean up the office before clocking in, that could be a case of working off the clock. If the extra hours' work doesn't reflect on your paycheck as overtime, then it's time to talk to an overtime attorney. 

Omitting Time Spent at Work
Did you know that you're entitled to payment for the time you spend at work at your employer's request? This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be working in order to get paid.

For example, you're entitled to compensation if you arrive at work for employee training. The same also applies if you attend a work-related meeting.

So if your employer asks you to come in an hour early or leave an hour late for training, meetings, or anything related, those extra hours should reflect on your paycheck as overtime hours if you've already worked 40 hours that particular workweek. 

Omitting Bonus Pay
If your terms of employment include a bonus when you meet certain requirements, then your employer owes you that agreed amount. However, given many employees don't usually remember such agreements in their contracts, some employers take advantage of the situation to deny them the bonuses they're entitled to. 

Waiving FLSA Rights
Despite knowing that they can't waive their employee's rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act, some employers may have their employees sign waivers. This is why it's always important to ensure you understand every document you sign at work. 

Remember that one document you signed without reading through the pages? It might be necessary to take a second look at it. 

Expert Knowledge of Employment Law

An employment lawyer from a reputable law firm like Morgan & Morgan understands employment laws at the federal and state levels. Given employment laws are complex and vary based on different aspects such as the employment agreement, state of employment, the industry of employment, and so on, the last thing you want is to work with a general personal injury attorney or just any attorney for that matter.

Think about it this way—would you hire a roofing contractor to take care of your landscaping needs? The answer is no, even though they work in almost a similar field. The same applies to an employment attorney; you can count on their experience and knowledge of employment laws to fight for your rights when an employer doesn't pay what they owe you. 

Remember, employment laws may seem pretty straightforward on paper, but they're actually very complex. For instance, you'll have to prove that the employer willfully violated your overtime laws. However, the term 'willful violation' could take different dimensions, depending on how it's being interpreted.  

Interpreting the Statute of Limitations

There are certain time limits for filing unpaid overtime wages claims. These time limits vary depending on several factors; for example, the State of employment determines the statute of limitations for filing such claims. 

The same also applies to the specific claim. For instance, in Florida, you have up to three years to file a claim if the employer willingly violated overtime laws. 

Deciding the Type of Lawsuit to File

Overtime lawyers can help determine the right kind of lawsuit against the rogue employer. Sometimes, it may make more sense to file a class-action lawsuit against an employer than a private lawsuit. A class-action lawsuit involves a larger group filing a lawsuit against an individual or entity. For example, if other company employees haven't been paid overtime, filing a class-action lawsuit could make more sense. This is because a class action lawsuit usually holds more weight and comes with more evidence than an individual lawsuit. 

Protecting Your Employment Rights

You have the right to raise certain issues against your employer without the fear of being fired, demoted, or punished in any other way. For example, even if your overtime pay claim is unsuccessful, your employer can't retaliate against you.

Federal and FLSA laws protect employees from retaliation when they raise such issues against their employers. Working with an employment attorney ensures that such rights are protected during and after the lawsuit. And if your employer retaliates against you, the attorney can help you file a retaliation claim. Additionally, the court may decide to force the rogue employer to implement certain changes at the workplace to prevent such cases from arising in the future. 

Calculating the Settlement 

You'll be surprised to find out that your employer actually owes you more than you think. Due to their experience and knowledge of employment law, such an attorney can help calculate the total overtime pay owed. For instance, you may be eligible for double "back pay" damages for unpaid overtime.  

How Morgan & Morgan Overtime Attorneys Can Help

As an injury law firm for the people, we understand the pain of discovering that your paycheck doesn't reflect what you've worked so hard for. This pain is so difficult to deal with, especially knowing how much of a difference your overtime pay could have made in your life. 

That's why we have an army of over 800 attorneys ready to represent you wherever you are, within the United States. Our employment lawyers don't settle for anything less than what you deserve. Instead, they've made it their personal business to hold such rogue employers responsible for their actions. 

Such employers shouldn't get rich at the expense of your hard work, sweat, and tears. You deserve to be paid for every hour worked, and that's why we're here to help. As the largest injury law firm in the United States, you can always count on our experience, resources, reputation, and dedication to fight for your rights till the end. 

Speaking of reputation, we are not just any ordinary law firm that claims to fight for workers' rights without any experience in this field. At Morgan & Morgan, our reputation speaks for itself. Here are some examples of related cases we've handled in the recent past. 

Aponte et al. v. Comprehensive Health Management, Inc

In 2012, we helped more than 1,400 benefits consultants at Comprehensive Health Management recover $6.5 million following a lawsuit over unpaid overtime. We filed the lawsuit on the grounds that the company had misclassified its consultants as 'outside salesmen,' exempting them from overtime pay. 

Remember the tactics we discussed earlier? This is a perfect example of such tactics in play.

Wayne Farms LLC. Fair Labor Standards Act Litigation

In 2009, we helped our clients recover more than $1 million from Wayne Farms, one of the largest poultry producers in the United States. We filed the lawsuit after it had been established that the company didn't pay its plant workers for time spent performing work-related activities at the plant. 

The lawsuit cited the company's failure to compensate its workers in different plants throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi for time spent walking to the production line and 'donning and doffing' protective clothing, which is compensable time according to the FLSA. 

Additional recent recoveries made by our lawyers include:

  • more than $1 million for a group of satellite installers;
  • around $1.1 million for a team of doctors underpaid by a hospital;
  • close to $5 million for a group of oil and gas inspectors;
  • close to $4 million for a group of superintendents and construction managers and;
  • up to $9 million for a team of hardware technicians. 

So if you're looking for overtime pay lawyers with a proven track record, Morgan & Morgan is one phone call away. The best part of it is we provide legal representation for our clients on a contingency basis, meaning you don't owe us anything unless we win! 

Call us today at 888-285-2886 to speak to someone who actually cares about your hard work. 

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