During the holiday season, it’s not uncommon for some employers to ask their workers to pick up a few extra shifts so that they can meet their customers’ demands. Some employees may work double what they would during any other time of the year as a result. It’s not unheard of for them to rack up in excess of 40 hours a week.
While an increase in hours may help you pay for gifts for loved ones, travel and other costly expenses at this time of the year, it’s unfortunately, a season when employers tend to try to take advantage of their workers as well.
During the first part of the 21st century, the number of “wage theft” claims that have been filed have steadily increased. In 2013 alone, the Department of Labor recovered as much as $170 million after investigating wage laws violations cases. Most of these employers failed to pay their employees overtime.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires most employers to pay their workers the established federal minimum wage for all hours worked. Some state minimums are higher and must be paid instead. If an employee works more than 40 hours in a single week, then FLSA requires them to be paid “time and a half,” also known as overtime pay.
An employee can file a complaint against their employer if they fail to pay this by submitting a complaint to a Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division office and perhaps also with their local state agency. How soon the claim has to be filed varies by jurisdiction. Most claims generally have to be filed within 18 months to three years after the violation occurred.
Many employees who have fallen victim to wage theft find themselves in a vulnerable position because they continue to work for their employer and are afraid that they’ll lose their job if they bring up their unpaid overtime. The good news is that you’re not alone. Many workers are in the same situation. An experienced Burlington employment attorney can work with you to make sure that you receive proper compensation.