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Looking at employee rights regarding overtime

Last time, we began looking at a new rule passed by the Department of Labor which will extend overtime pay to millions more Americans. As we noted, the Fair Labor Standards Act exempts some employees from overtime pay as well as minimum wage protections, and it exempts certain employees from only overtime protections. Knowing one's own classification under the law is important to protect one's rights.

Employers are allowed to compensate employees on an hourly rate, provided such employees receive the equivalent of the minimum hourly wage and a "time-and-a-half" rate for hours exceeding 40 in a workweek, unless the employee is otherwise exempt with respect to that requirement. 

Several points for employees to keep in mind:

  • Employers are not allowed to pay employees a lump sum for overtime hours if the lump sum is not directly related to the number of overtime hours the employee worked, even if the amount paid is equal to or greater than the amount owed under the law.
  • Neither are employers allowed to pay employees a fixed salary for overtime hours
  • Of particularly importance is that overtime protections may not be waived. An employer who attempts to secure such a waiver from an employee or prospective employee is acting illegally. An employer may not secure an agreement with an employee that only 40 hours per week will be counted as working time, though employers may not permit overtime work or may require advance authorization for overtime work.

Employees who believe their employer has acted illegal with regard to overtime requirements should contact an experienced attorney to determine their legal options and for zealous advocacy of their rights. 

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