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Can I Sue for Illegal Working Hours?

Can I Sue for Illegal Working Hours?

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Can I Sue for Illegal Working Hours?

Any type of employee can be taken advantage of. That's why it is so important for employees to make sure that they have protected their legal labor rights and to ensure they take the proper measures if they believe their employer has violated the law.

When an employee discovers that their rights may have been violated, their next logical question is, "Can I sue for illegal working hours?" To answer this question first requires an understanding of what illegal working hours means in the context of most people's cases.

Illegal working hours are essentially assigned hours of work that are in violation of specific laws, such as a truck driver being pressured to take on extra loads or drive too long in violation of federal rules. However, if you have been asked to work extra hours and are an employee qualified to receive overtime and have not received overtime pay, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. You will want to ask your lawyer, "Can I sue for illegal working hours?"

Is Being Overworked an Indication of An Illegal Activity?

These days, plenty of employees work 50 to 70 hours per week, which can have a negative impact on your health, your social life, your family, and more. There are no legal limits on employee hours, which means many people's interpretations of illegal working hours are personal opinions rather than a violation of real law.

Simply being overworked does not allow you to file a legal claim. However, you could have other types of employment lawsuits, like if your employer did not pay you overtime when they were supposed to. 
While it is certainly very frustrating to be overworked, this in and of itself is not enough to bring a legal case against your employer. However, there are state and federal laws that protect your rights as an employee when an employer tries to make you work illegal hours.

If you have evidence that you can show that the employer knew or should have known about these situations and tried to force you to work anyways or threatened you that you would lose your job if you did not comply with a request, you may be eligible to bring legal action with the help of an employment attorney. Since there are so many specifics that apply based on state-level laws and the circumstances of your employment, it is very important you have your case evaluated by a knowledgeable lawyer who has practiced in this field of law for many years. 

What Is Overtime Pay?

You may be using the term illegal working hours to describe your experience picking up extra shifts beyond 40 hours in a given work week and then not being compensated appropriately. State and federal labor laws mandate the payment of overtime rates for applicable workers. 

If an employee works more than 40 hours per week under the Fair Labor Standards Act, those additional hours must be paid at 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for that employee. However, this rule does have quite a few exemptions including those employees who carry out professional, administrative, or executive duties. In some cases, you may need to refer to the specific state laws of your workplace. 

Some states have very employee-friendly labor laws and a high volume of employers who may violate them. In California, for example, employers have to pay overtime if an employee works longer than 8 hours in a day, even if they do not work more than 40 hours in that same week.

Overworking and Workers' Compensation

Being asked to pick up extra hours or taking on unpaid work because you are being threatened with termination? This can have other implications too. Working too much can cause physical health ailments, especially if you work more than 10 hours per day. 

If you are injured at work, workers' compensation may cover your medical bills and lost wages. You need to be sure that your company and your position are covered by workers' compensation and be able to show a reasonable connection between your medical condition and the working conditions.

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  • What About Working Without Pay? 

    Another question to consider is, "What happens if your employer asks you to work without pay?" Exchanging compensation for hours worked is the basic definition of many jobs. There are labor laws in place to help protect you to get compensated for that time. Off-the-clock hours are illegal. Employees that are covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act at the federal level cannot be required to work without pay.

    However, this does not stop the employers from asking or trying to take advantage of this situation. This is often referred to as working "off the clock," such as someone asking a retail store employee to show up 2 hours early to stock shelves but not get paid for it. Some employers will flat out ask employees to put in hours off the clock or tell the person that they need to be a team player. If you are a non-exempt employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act, however, your employer cannot ask you to work off the clock because it is illegal.

    You would be eligible to file a complaint with the Department of Labor and could even collect back pay and back wages for any hours worked that you were not compensated for. If your employer allows you to work, they are legally required to compensate you for those work hours if you are a non-exempt employee. However, there are some exceptions when it comes to employers paying you for all time work and the most important one to know here is how an employee is classified.

    Hourly or non-exempt employees are entitled to compensation for every hour they work, including overtime for those over 40 hours in a week, but that rule does not apply to salaried workers. If you have evidence indicating that your employer asked you to pick up illegal working hours, to work without pay, or some other scenario that has violated state or federal labor laws, you need an experienced and knowledgeable employment lawyer to help.

  • What Is Off-the-Clock Work? 

    Off-the-clock work is an employment scenario in which an employee is asked to continue working within their role or at the place of employment without being compensated for doing so. This usually comes with a request that the employee does not record their time at all or does not consider themselves at work, even though they will be completing tasks directly related to their employment. 

    For example, an employer might request that an employee comes in early to help set things up for the day. Technically, that employee might be on the clock during that time, even though the employer has asked them not to record it as such. Perhaps the employee's official shift starts at 2 p.m., but the employer has asked the employee to come in at 10 a.m. to complete off-the-clock work. 

    Depending on the circumstances of employment, this could serve as illegal working hours. 

  • Should I Just Ask for Back Pay? 

    If you have realized that you have been subjected to illegal working hours after reading this article and believe you have grounds for a legal case, your first line of defense might be to contact your employer and ask them to pay the money owed to you. Even if you have strong evidence indicating that you completed illegal working hours and can indicate that this was done at the request of your employer, this does not always mean that your employer will pay you for that work. 

    Getting back pay is not the only possible solution available to you, since you might be eligible to open an employment lawsuit, depending on your specific situation. Before talking to your employer, contact the experts at Morgan & Morgan for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to get free advice on how you should move forward. Sometimes directly confronting an employer can lead to retaliation and further legal troubles, so it's best to get all the relevant information first. 

    Reach out today and get the compensation you deserve.

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Last updated on May 31, 2023

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