What to Do if Your Employer is Not Paying Your Overtime

Text sign showing hand written words Overtime pay - unpaid overtime wages concept

You work hard to earn a living and deserve to be paid for all the time you’ve worked — including your overtime hours. If your employer fails to pay your overtime wages, you could be losing a substantial amount of compensation to which you are entitled. While withholding the compensation you have earned is a violation of both state and federal law, it’s important to understand that there are legal remedies available to recover your unpaid overtime wages.

When Does an Employer Have to Pay Overtime?

Under Ohio law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), most employers are required to pay their hourly or salary non-exempt employees for any overtime hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek at a rate of one and a half times the employee’s regular rate of pay.

How Do Employers Avoid Paying Overtime Wages?

There are many different ways an employer might attempt to avoid paying you the overtime wages you have rightfully earned. For example, an employer might use the following tactics to circumvent the state and federal overtime pay laws:

  • Misclassifying a worker as an independent contractor or an exempt employee who is not entitled to overtime wages
  • Trying to get a worker to perform their work-related tasks off-the-clock
  • Asking an employee to work before they have clocked in or after they have clocked out
  • Failing to pay a worker for training or required meetings
  • Paying your regular hourly wage for overtime, rather than time and a half
  • Giving employees deceptive job titles that indicate they are exempt from overtime pay

There can be many reasons an employer fails to pay their employees overtime pay. Sometimes an employer might simply not know that they need to pay overtime — but this doesn’t excuse them from doing so. In other cases, it may be less expensive for an employer to violate the law than pay overtime since many workers will not ever take legal action to recover their unpaid wages. Critically, there are only a few exceptions when it comes to overtime pay, otherwise an employer is required to pay an employee overtime for any hours worked beyond 40 in one workweek.

What Can You Do if Your Employer Fails to Pay Your Overtime Wages?

In the event your employer fails to pay you full compensation for the time you worked, your unpaid overtime wages can quickly add up. Notably, you may have several options to recover the wages you are owed. You should first discuss the matter with your employer and give them the opportunity to resolve the issue. If attempts at resolving your unpaid overtime wage issue are unsuccessful, you have the right to file a complaint with the Ohio Department of Commerce or the U.S. Department of Labor. An investigator from the Bureau of Wage and Hour Administration will be assigned to look into your claim.

You may also be able to file a lawsuit to recover your lost wages — this must be done within three years from the date the last violation occurred. By filing a lawsuit for your unpaid overtime wages, you may be entitled to recover not only the compensation you are owed, but also interest on the unpaid wages, penalties, attorneys’ fees, and your litigation costs. Additionally, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, you might be eligible to receive an award of liquidated damages equal to the amount of unpaid overtime, which could significantly increase the value of your claim. Commonly referred to as “double damages,” liquidated damages are awarded in cases where an employee can establish that the employer’s violation was willful.

It's essential to have a skillful employment law attorney by your side to help you navigate an unpaid overtime claim. They will be able to assess the value of your case and work with you to gather the necessary evidence to prove your claim. An attorney can also help to protect your rights and ensure you obtain the maximum compensation to which you are entitled as a result of your employer’s wrongdoing.

Contact an Experienced Ohio Employment Law Attorney

Cases involving unpaid overtime wages can be complex. If your employer violated the federal and state overtime wage laws, you may be able to pursue legal action and recover the pay that was wrongfully withheld. Located in Westlake and offering reliable representation to clients throughout Ohio, employment law attorney Chris Lalak is committed to fighting for the rights of workers who have been wronged by their employers and denied the overtime wages to which they are entitled. Contact Lalak LLC today to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation and learn how we can assist you.