Question
I often worked over forty hours a week but my boss does not pay me overtime. Is this right?
Answer
The great majority of employees are entitled to overtime wages if they work more than forty hours during a calendar week. Some employers will use a number of methods to violate your rights to overtime. As a general rule unless you are in a management position with the right to hire and fire staff you are not exempt from overtime laws and must be paid for time worked over forty hours.

Employers use many tricks to avoid their obligation to pay you for time worked. This includes requiring you to work “off the clock,” not compensating you for pre-shift “toolbox”meetings, failing to compensate you when the company has you on-call, failing to compensate you for overtime because it was not approved in advance, providing you “comp. time” in lieu of overtime, calling you an independent contractor or treating you as an exempt management employee when you are not.

If you are not paid overtime when you work more than forty hours there is a good chance you are being cheated out of wages due to you. The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act provides that employees whose rights have been violated may be entitled to receive not only their back wages but additional damages equal to those back wages plus attorneys’ fees. You only have two years to bring a claim for back wages so if you feel you have a claim for unpaid wages or overtime you should consult with an attorney promptly. Time may be running out.

If you would like to submit a question please fax directly to Tom Oxford at Waldman Smallwood (409) 832-2893. While we will not be able to answer all questions sent in, we hope to answer those that impact the greatest number of readers.

In reading this article please remember we are providing general answers to broad questions, your individual situation is unique and cannot be dealt with throughly in the space of a newspaper article. When you are facing a serious legal issue, you should always consult with an attorney about your individual circumstances and how they impact the general principles discussed in this article. You should also not hesitate to call Waldman Smallwood (Main) Beaumont 409-833-9151, Tuscany Park Beaumont 866-4140 or Nederland 727-7711, and we will be happy to visit with you. There is no charge for your call or first office visit.

Tom Oxford, Attorney
Waldman Smallwood Law Firm, P.C.

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