Wage and hour regulations understandably confuse many people. They may conflate rules that apply at the federal level with state-level rules or may hear misinformation from coworkers or managers that prevent them from making full use of their rights. Sometimes, companies intentionally mislead workers about their wage rights in an effort to diminish how much they must pay people for their time.
Wage claims related to a business underpaying workers for their labor are a common form of business litigation and often arise after workers find out that they haven’t received what they should from their employers. Those dissatisfied with the compensation they have received can potentially take legal action against their employer if the company’s practices deviate from federal and state law.
Oftentimes, wage claims involve unpaid overtime, as workers may believe untrue statements about their right to overtime pay. Companies may tell someone that they are exempt from overtime pay requirements when they actually have a right to receive overtime wages. Who is actually exempt from overtime, and who is entitled to overtime wages?
Exemption is for specific types of employees
One of the ways that employers in this lead workers is by misclassifying them as independent contractors but treating them like standard employees. Independent contractors are self-employed professionals and therefore do not typically receive overtime pay. A worker misclassified as an independent contractor could take action against their months of unpaid overtime wages if successful.
Another type of employee that is often exempt from overtime pay is the salaried worker. However, their salary needs to meet certain federal standards for the employer to deny them overtime wages. Currently, workers should receive an annual salary of $35,568 or weekly pay of $684 or more to be exempt.
Who isn’t exempt from overtime rules?
The biggest category of employees who will usually receive overtime wages is hourly workers. Those paid depending on how long they are at the job and whose wages fluctuate from week to week should receive overtime compensation when they put in more than 40 hours. Daily workers should also receive overtime pay. Salary workers whose compensation is below the federal cutoff should also receive overtime if they put in more than 40 hours of work in a single week. Even if workers went months without requesting overtime pay because they were unaware of their rights, they can hold their employer accountable by initiating a wage claim.
Seeking unpaid overtime wages can help workers to secure the income they have already earned but have not rightfully received from their employers.