Overtime pay is one of the most basic rights of modern American workers. With the exception of certain exempt workers, employees generally have the right to receive 150% of their average hourly wage when they put in more than 40 hours in a specific work week. Overtime wages can be of great benefit to hourly workers, who may want to add a buffer to their checking account or catch up on credit card bills.
Unfortunately, because it costs so much more per hour, many businesses will go to great lengths to deny their workers overtime wages, even if they theoretically deserve such pay. Workers in either of the two categories below may think that they don’t qualify for overtime pay when actually they have a right to receive it.
1. Low-earning salary workers
Employees paid on an hourly basis typically have the right to demand overtime wages, but salary pay often means a worker is exempt. However, it would be easy for employers to abuse a universal exemption for salary pay, so the federal government maintains a minimum salary for the purposes of overtime exemption.
Even if a company claims a worker shouldn’t receive overtime pay because of their salary, the federal rule establishing a baseline salary may say otherwise. Workers who receive a salary lower than the current federal threshold have the right to seek overtime pay if they put in more than 40 hours.
2. Workers who are paid a daily rate
Employers often treat daily pay rates as salary rates rather than hourly wages. However, the Supreme Court has ruled on the practice and determined that even high-earning workers paid a daily rate for their work might qualify for overtime wages.
Workers who discover that they should have received overtime pay but did not may be in a position to bring a claim against the company that employs them. Successful wage claims can lead to compensation for years of unpaid overtime in some cases. Workers often partner with one another if the company denied everyone overtime in the same way.
Reviewing an employee’s work history and current overtime rules can help determine if they might have grounds for a viable wage claim. Workers who want to understand their rights and options can, therefore, benefit from seeking personalized legal guidance.