Become Your Own Record Keeper
Wage and hour laws at the State, Federal, and Local levels impose an obligation on your employer to keep records of time worked and wages paid to employees.
Your paystub should include most, if not all, of this information.
Unpaid Overtime Can Go Unnoticed If You Don’t Check Your Paystub
Quite often, the information on the paystub is not accurate. Or perhaps you were with a check that does not include detail for hours worked.
Many cases alleging a violation of the wage and hour laws sit unnoticed for years before some seemingly unrelated event occurs that makes an employee question the employer’s pay practices.
We urge you to take a look at your paystubs and timesheets now (yes, the sign-in/sign-out sheet you sign every week without really looking at the time entries).
Your employer may not record all of the hours you actually work and the calculation of wages earned (and any overtime earned) may not comply with the law.
How To Check Your Paystub For Unpaid Overtime
When reviewing your paystub, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are all the hours you’ve worked reflected on that paystub?
- Did you report to work and begin working before the time your employer enters on a timesheet?
- Did you work through what is recorded on-time records as a lunch break?
- Did you take your tablet, cell phone, or other electronic devices home and continue to answer calls and emails after hours?
- Did your private (non-governmental) employer give you “comp time” instead of paying you for hours worked?
Now that you are looking at these records, do you find that you worked more than 40 hours in a workweek?
Even if you are paid a weekly salary, if you are not “exempt” as that term is defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act were you paid an overtime premium?
Calculating overtime is not as simple as it may seem.
Calculating Your Owed Unpaid Overtime
If you are working over 40 hours and have any doubt as to whether overtime is properly calculated, an experienced overtime attorney can quickly review your personal circumstances and provide guidance on this point.
If you have discovered errors in your paycheck, all is not lost.
First, you can bring the error to the attention of your employer and you have every right to expect the employer to correct the error.
Second, if that does not happen, you have the right to sue your employer for unpaid wages and unpaid overtime.
The obvious question is how will you prove your claim for unpaid wages.
Proving Your Unpaid Overtime Claim In Court
A court may find your employer liable for wages and damages upon no more than an employee’s testimony regarding the hours he or she works. The employer’s failure to produce accurate records to rebut an employee’s testimony, even if the employee is only able to offer “approximate” hours, may result in a full award to the employee.
However, in any discussion with your employer to resolve a conflict or legal action, credibility is an issue.
You may avoid a legal dispute altogether if you can back up your complaints.
If legal action is necessary, you need the jury to believe your estimate of hours worked.
The solution: Become your own record keeper.
- Keep your old pay stubs and any written communication between you and your employer about your rate of pay, hours worked, and complaints you make about your pay and the employer’s response.
- Get in the habit of recording the time you start and stop work.
- Record break time but only if you are relieved of all of your work responsibilities during the time your employer labels “break time.”
- Record time spent away from your workplace before and after your regular workday answering phone calls, responding to emails or text messages, writing reports or setting up client meetings.
- Keep copies of your phone bills, which will reflect the time on incoming and outgoing calls (yes, you can request this detailed report from most cellular carriers even if it is not included on your regular monthly bill).
- Keep copies of other computer records, which have time/date stamp.
At Wenzel, Fenton, Cabassa P.A., we want to help you collect the wages you have earned. The records you keep may make the difference in the results we can obtain for you in a wage dispute.
If you have any questions about a potential wage-hour claim, please give us a call for a free consultation.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.