Can I Sue for Unpaid Overtime?

As an employee, you are entitled to receive compensation for the time you spend working. Unfortunately, not all employers pay their employees what they are owed. If you have worked overtime and haven’t been compensated for it, there is a possibility you might be able to sue for unpaid overtime. Unpaid wage claims are best handled by a New York or New Jersey employment lawyer who has plenty of experience in this particular area of the law. 

At Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C., our labor law attorneys routinely handle unpaid wage and overtime claims. After reviewing your case, your lawyer can determine whether you are eligible to file a claim for unpaid overtime. One of the major considerations is whether you are an exempt employee or not.

Are you an exempt employee?

Most jobs fall under the jurisdiction of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This law establishes labor-related requirements, such as the payment of hours worked overtime. The law separates employees into exempt and non-exempt employees. A non-exempt employee is entitled to receive pay for overtime. An exempt employee is not entitled to receive overtime pay. You are considered an exempt employee if any of the following apply to you:

  • You are paid at least $23,600 per year.
  • You are paid on a salary basis, rather than an hourly basis.
  • You perform exempt job duties.

Exempt jobs are typically outside sales positions, such as contractors, as well as jobs that are considered to be professional, supervisory, or executive. Other examples of exempt positions are as follows:

  • Volunteers
  • 1099 contractors
  • Certain computer specialists who earn at least $27.63 per hour (including programmers and software engineers)
  • Outside sales positions (employees who routinely work away from the business site)
  • Seasonal employees of amusement or recreation businesses (including county fairs and ski resorts)
  • Newspaper deliverers
  • Criminal investigators
  • Some switchboard operators
  • Fishing operations workers
  • Employees of organized camps that operate for fewer than seven months per year

Casual domestic babysitters are also exempt from receiving overtime pay under the FLSA.

Employees who are exempt are not eligible to sue employers for unpaid overtime under the FLSA.

What is considered “overtime?”

If it’s determined that you are a non-exempt employee, then you may be eligible to file a claim for unpaid overtime wages—as long as you really did work overtime without being compensated for it. Federal law dictates that an employee who works longer than 40 hours in any one week is entitled to receive overtime pay. Usually, overtime pay is time and a half, or 150% of your usual rate of pay.

If you were not paid at all for your overtime hours, or if you were only paid at your usual rate of pay, you may be entitled to seek damages.

Damages available when you sue for unpaid overtime

When you sue for unpaid overtime, the amount of money you may recover is referred to as your “damages.” Unpaid overtime claims may result in different categories of damages. If you win your claim, you are entitled to receive the full amount of your unpaid wages. You may also be entitled to receive interest on those unpaid wages. Sometimes, penalties apply to unpaid overtime claims. In addition, your employer will be required to pay your attorneys’ fees.

Schedule a consult to discuss your rights under employment law

At Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C., our legal team has extensive experience protecting the rights of workers in New York and New Jersey. We regularly handle matters pertaining to compliance with federal and state labor laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Our AV-rated law firm invites you to schedule a consultation with an employment lawyer to discuss the overtime violations. The consultation is free, and there is no obligation to pursue a legal claim. Call us today to request an appointment with a knowledgeable New York employment lawyer.