Under federal law, your employer is required to pay you for all hours worked, including a premium for work performed over 40 hours per week, unless you fall into a narrow category of employees “exempt” from the overtime rules. If you worked overtime and were not compensated properly for the work you performed over 40 hours in a workweek, you may be able to collect liquidated damages and attorney’s fees, in addition to the overtime pay, your employer owes you. An experienced employment attorney can be invaluable in helping you to decide whether you want to pursue an overtime pay lawsuit against your employer.
9 Reasons You Need an Employment Attorney When Pursuing Your Overtime Pay
An Employment Attorney Can Determine Whether Your Employer Broke the Law
An Employment Attorney Will Look for Ways Your Employer Broke the Law
Florida law tracks the federal wage and hour law very closely in most aspects, although there are differences which may afford you additional rights under state law. This article focuses on the federal law, but don’t forget to ask your employment lawyer about the state law provisions that may apply to enhance your claims. The federal law governing minimum wage and overtime pay is the known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA provides that, unless you are an exempt employee, you must receive overtime pay when you work more than 40 hours in a given workweek. If you worked more than 40 hours and were not paid time and a half (1.5 times your regular rate of pay), you are entitled to overtime pay.
An attorney will be able to find out whether your employer made you work off the clock or attempted to classify you as exempt.
An experienced employment attorney has seen it all in terms of illegal tactics used by employers to deny employees’ overtime pay. Some of the more common ways employers break the rules regarding overtime pay include:
- Docking hours
- Not keeping accurate time records
- Improperly classifying employees as exempt so that they can’t receive overtime pay
- Improperly classifying employees as contractors so that they can’t receive overtime pay
- Making employees work off the clock once they’ve reached the 40-hour threshold
- Not paying employees for the time they spend in meetings and on-the-job training
- Not including bonus pay when figuring out employees’ regular rate
- Denying nonexempt employees overtime pay because they are paid a salary, rather than an hourly wage
An Employment Attorney Has Expert Knowledge and Experience
An experienced employment attorney can rely on his or her expertise and experience to provide you with useful counsel. He or she has spent years acquiring legal knowledge and will know best how to handle your case. He or she can take care of all the paperwork, court documents, and deadlines that will come with your case.
An Employment Attorney Can Help You Consider Your Options
An employment attorney can be indispensable in helping you decide whether you want to pursue a lawsuit against your employer. It’s a good idea to speak with an attorney as soon as you discover you are not being paid properly. You will want guidance as to how and when to raise your complaints with your employer and what evidence you may need to obtain to support your claims. You want to make sure that you keep a record of all of your time worked and your employer’s actions Including their reaction to your complaints regarding unpaid wages.
Yes, your employer may have simply made a mistake, but even if they didn’t, they might want to avoid a lawsuit. Regardless, an attorney can steer you in the right direction.
If you are not satisfied with your employer’s response to your formal complaint, an attorney can then help you consider a couple of options, depending on whether you want to attempt to recover liquidated damages, which compensate you for the delay in receiving wages from your employer. These damages, which are essentially in lieu of interest, are typically equal to the amount you are owed by your employer.
In addition to pursuing a lawsuit in federal or state court, you can file an administrative wage claim with the DOL. However, even though the DOL will investigate your claim, they do not prosecute every case.
If you are going to pursue a lawsuit that includes liquidated damages, your attorney can help you draft the required letter to your employer, which includes the request for unpaid overtime wages, the dates and hours you worked overtime, and the total amount your employer owes you.
An Employment Attorney Can Determine When You Need to File Your Claim
There are time limits for filing unpaid overtime wages claim. You are required to file your claim within two years of the date of the violation or when you learned of the violation. However, in cases in which your employer willfully violated overtime laws, you have three years. An employment attorney can help determine whether your employer willfully withheld overtime wages from you.
If you want to file a lawsuit under the Florida Minimum Wage Statute (F.S. § 448.110) so that you can collect liquidated damages, you have to do so within four years of when the violation occurred or five years if the violation was willful. And as you would under the FLSA, you have to notify your employer in writing.
An Employment Attorney Can Give You a Sense of How Long Your Case May Take
An experienced employment attorney will have a good idea of how long it will take to bring a lawsuit against your employer. They will also have a sense of whether your case can be settled out of court, which could significantly truncate the timeline.
An Employment Attorney Can Help You Decide If You Want to Pursue a Private or a Class Action Lawsuit
If one employee is being denied the overtime pay he or she has earned, chances are there are other employees who have suffered the same fate. There are instances in which it may not be worth it for a single employee to bring a suit against his or her employer, but when hundreds of employees take part in a class action suit, they may be able to secure a better result.
An Employment Attorney Can Figure Out Whether You Were Wrongfully Terminated or Retaliated Against
An employment attorney can provide insight into whether you were terminated or retaliated against for complaining about unpaid wages or pursuing a lawsuit against your employer. If you were, you are protected under the FLSA and Florida law. In addition to covering formal and informal complaints, you are also protected if you testify about wage violations during legal proceedings.
Regardless of whether your wage claim is ultimately successful, you are still protected from such retaliatory actions as being demoted or fired, changing your job title, curtailing your responsibilities, assigning you to undesirable tasks or shifts, or acting in a manner that impedes your attempt to find employment. If any of the above applies, an employment attorney will be able to help you pursue a retaliation claim.
An Employment Attorney Can Help You Get the Results You Want
All employees should be aware of their wage and compensation rights. An experienced employment attorney can help determine if you weren’t fairly compensated for the overtime work you performed and then help you secure the wages you are owed, along with possibly recovering liquidated damages and attorney’s fees.
Does Your Employer Owe You Unpaid Overtime Wages?
At Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., we can help you determine the best course of action for recovering them, whether it’s filing an FLSA unpaid overtime claim or pursuing a lawsuit against your employer. Contact us today; the initial consultation is free.