Are You Getting Screwed Out Of Overtime Pay?

Attention people who have jobs: You may be getting screwed out of overtime pay. You’d better bet that Chuck Norris doesn’t put up with not getting paid his overtime pay. Bankrate has a simple questionnaire that helps you determine if you are eligible for overtime pay:

Do you qualify for overtime?
•Do you get paid by the hour?
•Do you make a salary that goes down if you miss work?
•Is your weekly salary consistent, but less than $455 a week?

If you said yes to any of these questions, you should educate yourself about the laws concerning overtime pay. Bankrate’s article is good, it goes into all the exceptions and explains them. If you think you’re getting screwed out of overtime, check it out. Maybe you are! Employers make mistakes, just ask people who work at Walmart. —MEGHANN MARCO

Should You Be Getting Overtime? [Bankrate]

(Photo: The Consumerist)

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  1. Hoss says:

    The article does a great job explaining the rules — but remember, if you work a 35 hour week (e.g., 9 to 5 with one hour for lunch), your employer does not have to pay time and a half for the first 5 hours of OT. They can pay you straight time up to 40 hours in a week.

  2. SirNuke says:

    A couple summers ago I worked at a amusement park (a six flags water park) in Ohio. Despite regularly requiring over 40/hrs a week, they didn’t give us overtime on the grounds that all employees were seasonal. I’m not sure whether this was legal, but judging by the many sleazy tactics employed by the management it probably was illegal.

    Tactics such as only hiring employees that clearly had trouble getting jobs elsewhere (in my case, that wasn’t true, I was originally offered a job to work a tech position for them on certain days, and the low pay field job on others, which magically turned into only the low pay position).

    The high price of lawyers makes suing for overtime difficult unless the overtime abuse is widespread in a large company. In my case, we were probably collectively cheated out of less than the required $10,000 for an attorney. Financially, even if it was above $10,000 we were probably better off working the job than spending the time and money to recover the overtime. Something I am sure the management was well aware of.

  3. alhypo says:

    I know someone who technically should be getting overtime, even though he is on salary, because in our state only managers and executives responsible for eight or more employees are exempt from overtime. However, he works for a federally regulated company which seems to be able to operate outside of many state laws.

    As for the seasonal workers not getting overtime: I know this is a common (and legal) practice in agriculture, but I’ve never thought the same rules apply to amusement parks. That would suggest temporary employees are not entitled to overtime from any business, which I’m pretty sure is not true.

  4. Matthew says:

    I’ve walked past the window pictured above.

  5. healthdog says:

    to SirNuke: Most states do have seasonal laws that exempt overtime. I worked at Busch Gardens in Virginia about 10 years ago. I regularly worked 80 hours a week as a minor, and the employee relations people always had a handy-dandy copy of the section of VA law showing that everything was legal. Then they handed me a sheet of paper explaining that unions are only for non-happy families like ours. And they make Baby Jesus cry.

  6. Bullit says:

    How fortuitous.

    Not to be too much of a shill, but I just started working for a law firm that specializes in these kinds of cases, although generally they are class or collective actions. If anyone reading this worked overtime that they weren’t compensated for you can head on over to overtimecases.com to find out more about the firm/contact us.

    Or not. Either way, the collective unconscious is a weird and many-splendoured thing.

  7. SloppyChris says:

    Chuck Norris humor, how current!

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      Chuck Norris never goes out of style. If you think so, tell that to World of Warcraft.

  8. RandomHookup says:

    Quite often a lawyer isn’t necessary for actions like these. The state Labor Department is usually responsible for these kinds of cases. And the damages for not paying owed wages are usually trebled.

  9. emeryjay says:


    Wage earners should also be concerned about two other important issues: Lunch breaks and breaks.

    All employees have a responsibility to take a lunch break and two breaks
    during the day. It’s guaranteed under the Fair Labor Standards Act. It’s
    worth noting that no employee has the right to waive a break or a lunch break — bosses or employees.

    So, be you a boss or worker bee, working through lunch at your desk makes you a bad employee because you are exposing the company to
    needless liability.

    Employees cannot voluntarily give up a break or lunch period. And the
    boss can’t ask you give up your break.

    • caffeyw says:

      This varies by state. The federal law contains no provisions for lunch and/or coffee breaks. This is straight from the US Department of Labor. Now a number of states do require breaks for non-exempt employess (ie those paid hourly) but these vary widely from state to state.

  10. Greeper says:

    There is an OT exemption for “seasonal entertainment” and much of the agriculture insustry (as well as some others).

    And emeryjay, there is no right to breaks under the FLSA. Some (maybe half or fewer) states have break laws, most notably California.

    Finally, you absolutely do not need a lawyer to make an OT claim. Every state has a Department of LAbor (sometimes called Dept of Industrial Relations or the Wage & Hour Division). You can call them or download the complaint form and they will investigate free of charge.

    Almost all states’ DOL web site wil also have a wage/hour FAQ that answers the issues raised here. I’d bet 90% of them have a FAQ about meal and rest periods.

    FWIW, I’m a labor lawyer.

  11. acambras says:

    Let’s not forget that many people who work in “seasonal” agriculture jobs are undocumented, and a lot of them are probably scared to rock the boat by asking about overtime.

    I used to work at a restaurant that employed quite a few undocumented workers — I’m pretty sure management was aware of what they were doing because the new hires would offer social security cards that had clearly been doctored with wite-out. Management would do anything to circumvent labor laws, and the undocumented workers were reluctant to raise any objections.

    • teamplur says:

      Personally I’m big on civil rights for everyone including migrant workers, and not all migrant workers are “undocumented”, there is such a thing as a seasonal migrant worker visa. Now, aside form that honestly if you are working under the table, undocumented or not, you really can’t complain about anything related to overtime pay. You aren’t paying taxes and you are working illigally. Drug dealers don’t get overtime pay either >_>

  12. ihollywould says:

    I have a weird situation. I am a substitute teacher and work for six different districts/agencies in order to attempt to work at least five days a week. I get paid by the day, not the hour – and this is typically in half-day pay increments; some days I have even worked 1.5 days (morning, afternoon, evening half-days – each about 3.5 hours). Almost every week, I get a full five day’s work (which, to be honest, can be something like 30-50 hours in the classrooms, depending on the school days), but sometimes I have 5.5-6 days. Should this qualify as time-and-a-half? And what about working with multiple employers? I work with five districts and a substitute staffing service and intersperse all employers based on what’s available to work.

    Don’t even get me started on medical insurance, taxes, or anything. Having so many employers and such a chaotic work schedule is hard enough to do and put into a calendar, let alone worry about the monetary parts . . .

  13. SporadicBlah says:

    If you work in a “right to work” state like I do, asking questions can get you fired since employers in right to work states do not need a reason to terminate you.