Off the Clock Pay Violations and Fraud
State law requires employers to pay employees for all hours worked and federal law requires employers to pay an employee time-and-a-half for all hours worked beyond the 40-hour work week. Many employers violate both of these laws—and reduce their payroll expenses—by artificially trimming employees’ hours worked.
Some employers do this by failing to count certain travel time and hours worked. Others require work to be done before or after clocking in. Many employers pay their employees’ salaries to give the impression they are exempt from overtime. But paying a salary does not excuse the employer from paying overtime. Many employers prohibit their employees from working more than 30 hours or more than 40 hours and then require far more work. These employers must pay for all hours worked and must pay time-and-a-half for all hours over 40, even though they claimed to not permit that many hours to be worked. Likewise, breaks shorter than 30 minutes should be considered working time. Employees who work through lunch should be paid for their entire lunch break.
Employers often classify their employees as independent contractors in order to avoid these laws altogether. Others claim that an obscure exemption applies and refuse to pay their employees their earned overtime under the guise that an employee is a supervisor, a commissioned sales person, or a high-level administrator when they are really anything but. Still other employers require employees to perform work off the clock in order to artificially reduce their hours worked and avoid the requirement to pay overtime. Employers have also illegally made changes to the official workweek in order to reduce the number of employees who are working more than 40 hours in a “workweek,” even though their total is far more than 40 in a given calendar week.
The Fair Labor Standards Act allows employees to sue for two years’ worth of damages. However, where the employer is guilty of bad faith, employees can collect damages for the last three years and liquidated damages (i.e., double the amount the employee was harmed).
The North Carolina Wage and Hour Act provides greater protection than federal law when it comes to wage theft. While federal law only covers minimum wage and overtime, state law guarantees employees their promised wages. Thus, where employers force employees to work off the clock, employees can recover their actual damages for each hour worked under state law.
We have held such employers responsible and obtained fair compensation for our clients when these employers push the envelope in applying the law’s exemptions too broadly or when they otherwise cheat their employees out of their hard earned wages. If you believe you are owed overtime, you should reach out for a consultation today.
Reach out for a consultation today.