Employment Wage & Hour and Overtime Law

You earned your wages and overtime through your hard work.  Let us help you get them.  If your employer has deprived you of all the wages you earned, we can help you.  In an effort to increase their profit, employers may fail to pay you in accordance with the law.  Employees are not always aware of all of their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Some workers believe they are not entitled to overtime pay because they are paid a salary or are considered independent contractors by their employers.  Other employees regularly work “off the clock” without pay, including before or after a shift or during unpaid meal periods, without realizing that these are hours for which they are entitled to compensation.  Employees may not realize their rights have been violated or may not know what they can do about these violations.

The wage and overtime FLSA claim attorneys at Spencer Scott pllc are committed to protecting employees’ right to fair pay for their work.  We represent plaintiffs who have suffered lost wages and benefits due to their employers’ violations of state and federal wage and hour laws.  We are passionate about providing aggressive and dedicated representation.  Our track record is a result of over 60 years of combined experience and our passion for winning and serving our clients at the highest level of service.  With a named Super Lawyer (Reuters) every year since 2009, and awards of Best Lawyers in America (Woodward White, Inc.) for 2015 and 2016, Top Attorneys in Texas (Texas Monthly), and a Top Tier Firm by U.S. News & World Reports, Spencer Scott pllc has the resources and experience necessary to ensure your rights are protected.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was landmark legislation, enacted in 1938 to protect the principle of fair pay for honest employment.  It is the federal law that governs payment of the minimum wage and payments for overtime.  The FLSA requires that most employees be paid time-and-a-half for all hours worked over 40 hours in a work week, which is a defined 7-day period.  Ways that this law have been violated in the past include:

  • Failure to pay overtime at an hourly rate of time-and-a-half. Under the FLSA, “overtime” generally means time worked beyond 40 hours per work week.  The normal FLSA “work week” is 7 consecutive days.  Some jobs may be governed by a different FLSA overtime threshold, but those jobs are fairly limited.  Time actually worked over 40 hours in a 7 day period is “overtime.”  To learn more about what counts as hours worked, click here. 
  • The practice of working employees “off the clock” in an attempt to cut costs. You are probably entitled to unpaid wages if you have been asked to attend pre-shift meetings, training classes that benefit the employer or prep work at the beginning of a shift, closing tasks at the end of a shift, or doing work after hours – nights and weekends – for which you are not paid.  You are probably entitled to unpaid wages and overtime if you have been told that your hours worked were not approved in advance and will not be paid or if you have been told that you should have finished your work during the hours you were clocked in and you were then required to clock out and finish your work.  If any of these situations apply to you, you are probably entitled to unpaid wages and overtime.  For more information regarding “off the clock” work, click here.
  • Misclassification as an “independent contractor.” Under the FLSA, a person who is a true independent contractor is not entitled to overtime pay from the company that hires the person under a contract.  Just because the company refers to you as an “independent contractor,” however, does not mean you are.  Courts look at several factors including the degree of control exercised by the employer, the degree to which the worker’s opportunity for profit and loss is determined by the employer, the permanency of the relationship, and the skill and initiative required to perform the job.  For more information about whether you are an independent contractor or an employee, click here.
  • Paying comp time instead of overtime. “Comp time” generally refers to allowing someone to take time off at a later date in exchange for working longer hours in other periods.  The FLSA does not allow “comp time” for non-government employers.  If you have ever received “comp time,” you probably have not been paid properly.
  • Misclassification of employees as “white-collar” or exempt from FLSA regulations. Getting a salary is not enough to justify an employer’s failure to pay overtime.  To know more about who is and who is not exempt, click here.

Common Overtime Violators

Common overtime violators include:

  1. Full-service restaurants
  2. Fast food restaurants
  3. Hotels and motels
  4. Child day care services
  5. Gas station convenience stores
  6. Nursing homes
  7. Security guards
  8. Grocery stores
  9. Janitorial services
  10. Doctor’s offices, healthcare providers
  11. Dry cleaners
  12. Construction and landscape companies
  13. Retail stores
  14. Customer service and call centers

Protection from Retaliation – Can I get fired for complaining about unpaid overtime?

That’s a fair and commonly-asked question.  The FLSA protects workers who demand fair payment for overtime by imposing both criminal and civil penalties on employers who retaliate against them.  This protection is important because of the fear an employer can impose on an employee who cannot afford to lose his or her job, yet is not getting paid overtime required by law.  Employees are protected not just for formal complaints made in court or to the Department of Labor, but also to some informal complaints made directly to employers.  Illegal retaliation is not limited to just being fired, though.  An employer also cannot retaliate by demoting the employee, reducing his or her hours, shifts, or duties, giving false poor performance ratings, or “blackballing” an employee to unfairly prevent future employment opportunities.

Your Rights to Obtain Unpaid Wages and Overtime Under the FLSA

The FLSA allows employees to sue their employers for all wages and overtime that were not correctly paid for the previous two years, or for the previous three years if the court determines the employer violated the law willfully.  Employees who win their cases can be awarded a payment of up to double the amount of their unpaid wages and overtime, plus their attorney’s fees and court costs.

If you have questions about the FLSA and whether you have been paid correctly, contact the lawyers at Spencer Scott pllc for a free consultation and evaluation of your personal employment law claims.


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