Don’t Let Your Overtime Work Go Unpaid: Know Your State’s Labor Laws

In an unstable economy with unemployment rising and job growth remaining flat, many working employees today claim that employers are not paying them the full amount of hours worked. This can result from employees being incorrectly listed as ineligible for overtime or simply because employees never fairly received the money they put in the working hours for. As a result, many lawsuits have been filed against employers for wage and hour violations.

Over the past decade, such claims have significantly increased, in which 2011 saw a drastic rise in lawsuits. For example, in early May, Taco Bell received a class action lawsuit from an employee who stated that the restaurant forced employees to work off-the-clock and failed to pay them their regular and overtime wages. While companies that fail to pay employees fairly pay heavy amounts of money to resolve these lawsuits, employees should remain aware of their labor rights.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal law administered by the Wage and Hour Division, certain employees who work more than the standard work week of forty hours receive overtime pay for the additional hours worked and at a rate no less than time and a half of their regular pay. The FLSA applies to employees who work in interstate commerce or the productions of goods for commerce, and those who work for a firm with an annual gross sale of at least $500,000 a year. The FLSA also applies to those who work in a hospital or care institution, a school or college and those who work for a federal, state or local government agency. However, the act exempts some employees. To determine if a certain employment position is exempt from overtime pay, you should review information of the most common exemptions.

In addition to the federal law, some states have passed their own, often more favorable, overtime laws for employees. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) enforced the California overtime labor laws in order to protect employees with overtime regulations under certain circumstances. Such instances include when employees work more than eight hours in a day and more than forty hours in a week, in which case employees are paid time and a half for the additional hours worked. The California overtime labor laws also grant employees the first eight hours worked on a seventh consecutive day at time and a half. If employees work more than eight hours on the seventh day, they receive twice their regular rate. Also, employees who work more than twelve hours a day receive twice their regular rate.

You should be aware of your state’s labor laws to ensure your employer pays you accurately. To increase employee awareness, employers are mandated to display Federal and State Labor Law postings in the work environment.

Jillian Johnson is a professional writer who writes about an assortment of blog topics, whether pertaining to health, beauty, education, money, or the law. You can follow her @JillianLJ87.