Wage Claims

Unpaid Overtime Claims

Many employers either knowingly or unknowingly violate federal or state wage laws in failing to properly pay employees at a rate of time and a half their regular hourly rate for all overtime hours worked. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees who are not “exempt” from overtime are entitled to receive pay at a rate of time and a half their regular hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a given workweek. Illinois law similarly requires overtime to be paid for “non-exempt” employees.

Generally, to be “exempt” or excluded from receiving overtime pay, an employee must be both salaried (earning a minimum of $684 per week) and qualify as an executive, administrator or professional. It is the actual duties of the employee’s position that matters and not the employee’s title in determining whether the employee qualifies as exempt.

To be exempt, an employee’s duties need to include overseeing other employees and exercising his or her own independent judgment as to matters of significance. Just because an employer gives an employee the title of “manager” for example, does not necessarily mean that the employee is functioning as a manager and performing the necessary duties and responsibilities required to be deemed “exempt” from overtime pay.

For all employees who are not “exempt”, the employer is required to keep track of hours worked in each workweek. Hours must be tracked weekly even if the employer’s practice is to pay employees every other week. Employers often make the mistake of averaging hours over a period of greater than one week. For example, if an employee works 45 hours in one week and 35 in the next week, the employer cannot average the two weeks together to get 40 hours per week for purposes of calculating overtime. Rather, the employee in this hypothetical scenario would be entitled to 5 hours of overtime pay for having worked 5 hours in excess of 40 hours in the first workweek. The fact that the employee was 5 hours short in the second week does not eliminate the need for the employer to compensate the employee for overtime pay for the additional 5 hours the employee worked in the first week.

If your employer has not paid you for overtime wages to which you were entitled, Cotler Law can help you to recoup the wages which are due to you. The laws allow for employees to not only to recoup unpaid wages, but also provides for penalties and attorney’s fees. There are certain time limitations in which an employee must file a claim for unpaid wages so is it a good idea to contact legal counsel as soon as you think you are owed unpaid overtime wages.

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