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Understanding Your Wage and Overtime Rights

While many companies comply with the wage and overtime laws, others routinely violate laws protecting the wage and overtime rights of hard-working American workers like you. No one should work for free.

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"Off-the-clock" Work

Some companies fail to give payroll credit for all the time in which employees are engaged in activities that benefit the company. Such “off-the-clock” work is usually illegal even if the work was “voluntarily.” Some common examples of illegal “off-the-clock” work include: time spent traveling between clients; time spent in training or pre-shift meetings; time spent working during lunch or rest breaks; time spent “charting” or doing paperwork outside of the workplace; time spent gathering gear or equipment at the beginning of the workday; time spent setting-up, cleaning, or closing-down at the beginning or end of the workday.

Salaried Employees

Some companies pay workers a salary (instead of an hourly wage) to tell workers they are not entitled to overtime pay because of their job title. But, in fact, many salaried workers are entitled to overtime pay. Whether a salaried worker is entitled to overtime pay depends on his/her actual job duties, not on the job title provided by the company.

Tipped Employees

Many servers, bussers, bartenders, and other restaurant employees are paid through a combination of hourly wages and tips. Restaurants that pay employees in this manner must follow strict rules that apply to "tip- pooling" and "tip-sharing" and that limit the type of work a tipped employee may perform. Restaurants frequently break these rules, so please call if you work in a restaurant and have any questions about your pay. Our firm understands the rules and has recovered millions of dollars for restaurant employees.

Independent Contractors

Some companies deny workers with many legal protections and benefits (including the right to overtime pay) by calling them “independent contractors” instead of “employees.” But whether a worker truly is an independent contractor depends on the real-life circumstances of his employment. A worker is not an independent contractor just because he signed a contract that labeled him a contractor.

Employees Not Paid by the Hour

Many workers paid by the job, by the day, or by commission think they are not entitled to overtime pay just because they are not paid on an “hourly” basis. This is wrong. In fact, millions of employees paid on a job-rate, day-rate, or commissioned basis are entitled to extra overtime pay when they work over 40 hours in a week.

Miscalculation of Work Time & Overtime Pay

Some (but not nearly all) of the common violations include: “rounding” employees’ clock-in and clock-out times in a manner that always benefits the company; avoiding overtime pay by splitting the week’s hours into separate paychecks; using a “comp time” system to shift overtime hours from the week worked into a sub-40 hour week; basing time-and-one-half overtime pay on a pay rate that does not include commissions, bonuses, or shift differentials; paying salaried employees “half-time” for their overtime work; calculating time-and-one-half overtime based on the week’s lowest pay rate; failing to combine hours worked at different pay rates in determining whether 40 hours were worked.

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