Common Misconceptions about Overtime Pay

Salaried employees can’t earn overtime pay

Contrary to what many employers would have their employees believe, the fact that a person is paid on a salary basis rather than an hourly basis does not exempt that person from the right to receive overtime pay. Exemption from overtime pay is determined by a person’s job duties, not the way that person is paid or the professional title that person carries. To be exempt from overtime pay, a person must be classified as an executive, an administrator, or a professional, and there are specific qualifications for each of these classifications.

It’s permissible to pay “straight time” for overtime hours

Under the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), all non-exempt employees must be paid “time-and-a-half” for every hour worked over a 40 hour work week. A work week is legally defined as a period of seven consecutive days. Furthermore, it is not legal to ask or require a non-exempt employee to waive his or her right to overtime pay.

I choose to work through my lunch break, so I am not entitled to overtime pay

Even if an employee voluntarily works through his or her break time, that employee still must be paid for that time, regardless of whether that time pushes that employee into overtime hours.

My employer requires prior approval of overtime hours in order for an employee to be paid overtime wages

This is not legal. Any time an employer is aware or should reasonably be aware that an employee is working, that employee must be paid for that time. If that work takes the employee into overtime, he or she must be paid full overtime wages.

My employer averages my hours over a two-week pay period to determine whether I have worked overtime

Overtime hours are defined as any hours worked in excess of one 40 hour work week, or seven consecutive days. Any time an employee exceeds a 40 hour week, that employee must be paid overtime wages, even if he or she works fewer hours the following week.

My employer claims that I do not have to be paid for required job training or meetings that take me into overtime

This is an especially common overtime law misconception. Employees must be paid proper wages for any and all required training or meetings. If the training or meetings take the employee into overtime, he or she must be paid overtime wages.

If I fall behind in my work, my employer does not have to pay me for work I take home to get caught up

Overtime laws have no relation to the location where work is performed, and it is not legal for an employer to refuse to pay overtime wages for work taken home based on the common excuse that the work could have or should have been completed in a 40 hour work week.

My employer does not have to pay me for time spent setting up before my shift or cleaning up after my shift

Any time you are required to be at your workplace or perform job duties is considered compensable time. The bottom line is, if you do the work, you must be paid proper wages for that work.

My boss does not have to account for bonuses or commissions when calculating my rate for overtime pay

Except in very rare cases, any compensation an employee receives must be counted when calculating that employee’s overtime pay rate. For example, if you earn $15 per hour and earn an average of $5 per hour in commissions, your boss must calculate your overtime pay rate based on an hourly wage of $20 per hour.

Have Your Rights as an Employee Been Violated? We Can Help.

If you believe you were wrongfully denied overtime pay to which you are entitled, an experienced overtime lawyer at our firm can help you determine whether any overtime laws were broken. If so, you may be entitled to back pay for unpaid wages and additional damages. To learn more, contact us to schedule a free overtime pay lawsuit consultation.