As discussed earlier, some rogue employers manipulate overtime laws to have their employees work more than they should. In that case, you can seek legal action against the rogue employer. Here are some examples of situations that might trigger a complaint against the employer.
Because employers know that they can make overtime mandatory, some abuse this privilege by overworking their employees.
Here's an example of such a situation.
Jane works at a busy restaurant as a waitress. Her employer then updates her job responsibilities, effectively requiring Jane to help do the restaurant's dishes and clean all floors every shift. Jane's employer also requires her to conduct all accounting tasks at the restaurant and prepare reports at the end of every shift.
Instead of working 40 hours a week, Jane's employer now orders her to work at least 60 hours a week. This could be a case of employee manipulation by the employee.
In reality, Jane plays the role of a waitress, accountant, bookkeeper, and cleaner at the restaurant, even though it would make more sense for her employer to hire extra employees to share these roles with Jane. In that case, Jane might have a valid case against her employer.
Denied Overtime Pay
It's illegal for your employer to deny you overtime pay when you've worked more than 40 hours a week or eight hours a day (in some states). But believe it or not, some rogue employers know how to manipulate the system, eventually denying eligible employees overtime pay.
Common Tactics Employers Use to Avoid Paying Overtime
Here are some examples of tactics employers use to avoid paying overtime.
Your employer cannot average your workweek. Unfortunately, this is one tactic many employers use to avoid paying unsuspecting employees their overtime pay.
Some employees use this tactic, especially against employees who get paid every two weeks. Here's what they do.
Suppose John works 50 hours a week on the first work week. In that case, a rogue employer will have him work 30 hours the next week. As a result, the employer will claim that John worked a combined total of 80 hours within those two weeks. Such an employer will then pay John the regular hourly wage, multiplied by 80 hours.
But that's not right. Each workweek stands alone when calculating overtime.
This means that John worked 10 hours as overtime on the first work week and should be paid for those extra hours.
Requiring Employees to Work Off the Clock
Many employers use this tactic to avoid paying their employees overtime. Like many other tactics dishonest employers use, some employees don't realize that they have a right to refuse to work off the clock.
Sometimes, it may be difficult for employees to realize that their employers are actually taking advantage of them by asking them to work off the clock. This is because such employers will request their employees to do "simple favors" such as:
- arriving early for their shift to test the telephone without clocking in;
- arriving early to clean a particular workspace without clocking in; or
- dropping off outgoing mail to a particular postal office after clocking out.
Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors
You don't have to follow most federal and state employment laws when you're an independent contractor. This is why it's important to understand such laws because some rogue employers classify their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying overtime and other employee benefits. So if a client claims you're an independent contractor but treats you as an employee, you might have a case against them.