Workers deserve pay for every minute of time they spend on the job. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other federal and New York laws, they deserve time and a half for hours that exceed forty hours in a pay week. Still, employers find ways to shortchange their employees. Some of these tactics are obvious while others are more difficult to detect.
Time spent working in preparation for a shift is still time spent working. Work activities some employers expect their workers to do for free include:
- Putting on uniforms, protective gear and other equipment in a work locker room
- Preparing work areas such as a kitchen or dining room prior to business hours
- Closing up or opening a store or other place of work
If your employer has refused to pay you for such duties, you may have a valid wage and hour claim.
Bringing work home
Has your employer ever asked you to bring certain tasks home to complete “off the clock”? This is also a wage and hour violation. Whether your employer asked you to look over some balance sheets, research advertising campaigns or repair work equipment on your off-hours, you deserve compensation for that time.
Being on call is another scenario in which you may deserve compensation for work you have not been paid for. If your employer requires you to carry a cell phone while on call, it may not be a violation. If your employer places other restrictions on you while you are off the clock, however, you may be entitled to compensation for those hours.
One way employers deny overtime pay is by classifying workers as exempt, meaning those employees receive a set salary no matter how many hours they work in a week. In order to qualify as exempt, employees must generally be in managerial positions. If your employer has classified you as an exempt employee but still requires you to perform the job duties of a non-exempt employee, you may deserve time and a half for the hours you work above 40 hours in a workweek.
If you believe your employer has cheated you out of wages, it is important to remember that you have strong rights. You don’t have to accept this treatment. By pursuing a wage and hour claim, you may be able to reclaim the fair pay you were deprived of.