Generally, employees are entitled to overtime wages unless they fall within a specific exemption. Unfortunately, some employers try to unlawfully avoid paying overtime wages to employees that are non-exempt. Here are five ways your employer may avoid paying you overtime wages:
1. Your Employer Pays You On A Salary Basis
You may be entitled to overtime wages even if your employer pays you on a salary basis. Just because your employer pays you an annual salary does not necessarily mean they can avoid paying you for working overtime.
2. Your Employer Requires You To Work Off The Clock
Your company may require you to perform work before you clock in or after you clock out. Additionally, your employer may even require you to work through a lunch break but it still deducts 30 minutes (or more) from your time. Thus your employer gets the benefit of you working more than 40 hours a week without having to pay you overtime wages.
3. Your Employer Misclassifies You As Exempt
Your employer may try to avoid paying you overtime wages by stating you fall under an exempt category. For example, just because your employer labels you an administrative, executive or professional employee does not necessarily mean that you are exempt.
4. Your Employer Classifies You As An Independent Contractor
Your employer may try to avoid paying you by classifying you as an independent contractor. Massachusetts overtime laws generally do not apply to independent contractors.
5. Your Employer Pays You “Straight Time” For Overtime Hours
Your employer may avoid paying you overtime wages (time and a half) by continuing to pay you your straight hourly rate for all work you perform over 40 hours per week.
You may be entitled to treble damages, interest, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and costs if your employer fails to pay you overtime wages.
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The Not-So-Fine Print:
We see patterns in our practice, like the ones described above. However, every case has its own unique facts. Before you take any action, you should contact an employment lawyer and get advice on your own situation. We can’t provide legal advice here and this isn’t intended as legal advice. It is best, if possible, to establish a relationship with an attorney before a workplace issue turns into a crisis. Employees who have received a verbal or written warning or performance improvement plan should contact counsel now. Ditto for employees who are seeing their doctor for workplace-related stress or anxiety.