The profit incentive that drives modern businesses often pits workers against the companies that employ them. Businesses want to pay as little as possible for their labor, while workers obviously want to receive appropriate wages for the work that they perform.
Companies sometimes count on workers not understanding or making use of this right. Wage theft, in particular, only works as a business strategy when the staff members denied appropriate compensation are not aware of their rights.
Overtime wages cost employers at least $150% of standard wages, which means that businesses will often do anything they can think of to avoid paying workers for overtime. Sometimes, companies even misrepresent the situation, telling workers that they are exempt from overtime when they are not. Salaried workers often fall victim to the myth that they are automatically exempt from overtime pay.
Many workers paid on a salary basis qualify for overtime pay
Exemption from overtime wages depends as much on how much money you make and how your employer classifies you. Those paid on a salary basis are often exempt from overtime wages because they have better job security and command higher pay than the average hourly worker.
Still, some businesses offer workers low pay despite their salary work arrangements. The Department of Labor requires that a salary meet a certain financial threshold for a business to avoid overtime pay obligations. If you don’t make at least $684 per week, which adds up to $35,568 per year, then your salary doesn’t exempt you from overtime wages.
You may have significant unpaid passed overtime
For workers who have held a low-paid salary position for several years, the discovery that they should have received overtime wages comes as a shock. They may realize that they have put in dozens of unpaid hours for which they deserve compensation.
Sometimes, especially if you have professional help presenting your claim, notifying your employer that they violated your wage rights and requesting overtime pay can lead to an appropriate resolution to the situation. Other times, your employer may continue to deny you over time or possibly even punish you for speaking up. Those who don’t receive overtime wages as they should sometimes need to go to civil court.
Bringing a lawsuit against your employer can lead to compensation for you and possibly any other co-workers subject to the same overtime wage violations that you experienced.