How Can a Lawyer Help You Collect Unpaid Overtime Wages in Texas?
In an effort to cut costs, employers may deny their employees overtime pay.
From refusing to recognize certain time spent on the job to reclassifying your employment status, there are many ways for employers to wrongfully mislead you into thinking they do not owe you overtime.
In fact, most Texas employees who work more than 40 hours are entitled to overtime pay.
WATCH: The 5 Most Common Ways That Texas Employers Avoid Paying Overtime
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that guarantees workplace protections, including overtime pay for nonexempt employees. Under the FLSA, if you work more than 40 hours in a week, your employer must pay you for that overtime at a rate of one and a half times your regular rate.
At Wood Edwards LLP, our Texas overtime lawyers can evaluate your employment situation, help you determine if you qualify for overtime pay, and file a claim against your employer to get any unpaid overtime pay you deserve.
Questions about unpaid overtime in Texas?
Schedule a consultation with Wood Edwards LLP today to learn your options.
Who Is Eligible to Receive Overtime Pay?
Not all employees have the right to overtime pay. The FLSA categorizes employees as either exempt or nonexempt.
Nonexempt Employees (employees who are entitled to overtime pay)
No matter how highly paid, nonexempt employees are entitled to overtime pay for hours worked over 40 during a workweek. The following types of manual laborers and other blue-collar workers “who perform work involving repetitive operations with their hands, physical skill, and energy” are nonexempt employees:
- Construction workers,
- Plumbers, and
- Operating engineers.
First responders, including police, firefighters, and paramedics, are also nonexempt employees. Whether you are an exempt or nonexempt employee depends on your specific employment situation. Let our Texas overtime attorneys help you evaluate your employment status so you can claim your overtime pay.
Exempt Employees (employees not entitled to overtime pay)
Exempt employees are not eligible to receive overtime pay. Some workers have to meet minimum salary requirements and perform certain job duties, while others are exempt based on their industry type. For example, executive, administrative, and professional workers are exempt if they earn at least $684/week or $35,568/year and have certain workplace responsibilities.
The following types of workers are also exempt from overtime pay:
- Computer employees,
- Outside sales persons,
- Agricultural workers,
- Seasonal workers,
- Certain caretakers, and
- Certain retail or service workers who earn a commission.
There are additional qualifications for each employee listed and many more types of exempt workers. For help determining whether you are an exempt or nonexempt employee, reach out to our overtime lawyers.
What About Independent Contractors?
Only employees can receive overtime pay. Thus, sometimes employers will label a worker as an independent contractor to avoid paying overtime. To qualify as an independent contractor, the company hiring the independent contractor can only decide and direct the final result of the work. If that person is deciding when, where, or how the work will be done, you are more likely an employee, not an independent contractor.
What About Salaried Employees?
Regardless if you earn a salary or hourly wage, employers must pay all employees overtime unless they are exempt under the FLSA.
Do not let your employer take advantage of the complex web of rules and requirements under the FLSA. At Wood Edwards LLP., we know Texas overtime law inside and out. Our Texas overtime lawyers are here to explain the protections you have under the law.
Reasons Your Employer May Be Denying You Overtime
Employers use many different tactics to get around paying their employees overtime. Considering how confusing overtime laws can be, it is no surprise employees often believe their employers. Some common excuses employers use to deny overtime pay are:
- You are a salaried employee;
- You are an independent contractor;
- The overtime hours are not compensable time; and
- You failed to get authorization to work overtime.
Remember, salaried employees can still receive overtime, and independent contractors need to meet certain requirements to qualify as such. Compensable time—i.e., time for which an employee is entitled to compensation—is determined by the employee’s job requirements. Lastly, an employee must be paid for hours worked over 40 in a week, even if the employer did not authorize the overtime.
Bring your employer’s reason for not compensating you to our overtime lawyers, and we will determine its legitimacy.
What Options Do You Have if Your Employer Has Not Paid You Overtime?
If your employer is wrongfully withholding payment for overtime hours, it is important to act quickly to protect your rights. There are several options available.
First, talk to your employer. It is possible your employer inadvertently failed to compensate you.
However, if you believe your employer is intentionally withholding your overtime pay, it may be time to take legal action.
And keep in mind that it is a violation of FLSA for your employer to fire you or discriminate against you in any manner for filing a complaint or taking legal action.
File a Complaint
The U.S. Department of Labor, Wage-Hour Division (WHD) is a federal agency that enforces the FLSA on employers. By filing a complaint with the WHD, they will initiate an investigation into your employer’s payment practices and determine if your employer is in compliance with the law. In some cases, the Secretary of Labor will file a lawsuit on your behalf to recover the unpaid overtime.
There are consequences to filing a complaint with WHD. You cannot bring a private lawsuit against your employer if the Secretary of Labor brings a lawsuit on your behalf. You also forfeit your right to file a lawsuit if, under the WHD’s supervision, your employer compensates you for unpaid overtime.
File a Lawsuit
When suing an employer for unpaid overtime, it is up to the employee to provide evidence that he or she worked more than 40 hours over a seven-day period. They must also show that they were not paid time and a half or more for those extra hours.
If you are successful with your lawsuit, the FLSA requires employers to reimburse employees for attorneys’ fees and court costs in addition to awards for unpaid wages and liquidated damages. Liquidated damages, under the FLSA, are double the amount of unpaid wages your employer owes you.
Join a Collective Action
When multiple plaintiffs file lawsuits against an employer for wage payment violations, the FLSA refers to them as “collective actions.” If you meet the qualifications for the collective action, you can join the lawsuit. This is optional, and you can still choose to file your own lawsuit against the employer.
A Texas overtime attorney from Wood Edwards LLP., can walk you through your options so you feel confident in your decision. We will help you evaluate which choice gives you the best chance of success.
How Long Do You Have to Take Action Against Your Employer?
There is a deadline, also known as a statute of limitations, for bringing a claim against your employer. For unpaid overtime claims, you have two years to file either a federal complaint with the WHD or bring a lawsuit. Generally, if you do not bring your claim within those two years, courts will reject your case and you cannot recover the unpaid overtime.
The deadline may be extended to three years if the employee can show that their employer willfully violated the FLSA. A willful violation is when an employer knew or should have known their conduct was prohibited but did it anyway.
The only way to stop the statute of limitations clock is to file a lawsuit. Even if you talk to your employer, the human resources department, or file a complaint with the WHD, the clock continues to run. It is imperative that you contact a Texas overtime lawyer as soon as you suspect your employer is withholding overtime pay. As a team of experienced overtime attorneys, we can take immediate action to secure your employment rights under FLSA.
How Much Can You Recover?
Under the FLSA, employees may be able to recover unpaid overtime for the two previous years before filing the lawsuit. You can continue to recover unpaid overtime until the case is resolved.
If your employer’s violation of the law is willful, you can recover the previous three years’ overtime pay. In addition to the unpaid wages, you may also receive liquidated damages, attorneys’ fees, and court costs.
Further reading: How to Calculate Overtime in Texas
Why Choose the Texas Overtime Lawyers at Wood Edwards LLP?
When you are up against your employer, you need overtime lawyers in Texas who represent your interests. At Wood Edwards LLP., we take pride in protecting Texas workers. Our overtime attorneys understand that each employment situation is different, so we fully personalize any legal guidance that we provide. We also appreciate that overtime laws can be incredibly difficult to understand, which is why we take the time to thoroughly explain your legal rights to you.
Wood Edwards LLP., is a Dallas-based boutique litigation firm that offers its clients big-firm experience with personal attentiveness. Founding partner and overtime lawyer, Robert Wood, has provided legal counsel for hundreds of individuals regarding a variety of employment matters. If you believe your employer is improperly withholding compensation for overtime hours, contact an overtime attorney at Wood Edwards LLP., today.