Can I Sue My Employer If I Wasn’t Paid Overtime?

Federal law under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that in most cases all employers should pay their workers overtime at one and a half times their normal hourly wage if working over 40 hours weekly.

If your employer fails to pay overtime this is called wage theft. You are entitled to sue your employer for unpaid wages if you were not paid overtime.

If your employer has repeatedly violated the overtime requirements s/he may be asked to pay $1,100 per violation. Some states are stricter than others when imposing penalties for these violations.

What to Do If You Were Not Paid Overtime

If you know you haven’t been paid overtime and you have the evidence to prove it, the first step you should take is contact your employer and remind them you haven’t been paid for overtime.

If this omission is acknowledged you may be lucky and get the unpaid overtime on your next pay day.  If there is no response from your employer the next step is to inform the Wages and Hours Division (WHD) at your Department of Labor office of the wage theft. Most states have an unpaid wages claim form which you complete and either hand in at the local office or send through the mail.

You will be assigned an investigative officer who will investigate your claim and study any evidence you have provided supporting it. If the officer thinks you have a valid wage theft claim he or she will probably contact your employer to discuss your complaint.

You may be asked to take part in mediation with your employer as this is often the preferred way of solving wage theft. If this fails, the Secretary of Labor may file a lawsuit on your behalf for back wages and an amount called liquidated damages.  

This later amount is typically equal to the wage theft so you get double the amount. This happens if your employer has willfully violated the Wages and Hours Laws.

When Can I File My Unpaid Overtime Claim?

You may file your own lawsuit for your unpaid overtime claim if the Department of Labor hasn’t done this for you. If this is successful you will get the amount owed paid plus liquidated damages, court costs and attorney's fees.

You are only likely to be successful if you have sufficient evidence to prove you were not paid overtime pay due to you. This could include:

  • your record of hours worked;
  • your pay stubs showing payments;
  • co-workers reports that you worked and were not paid overtime.

You should not delay in contacting the WHD to file an unpaid wages claim. This is because most states enforce strict time limits for employees to file unpaid wages claims.

Under federal law in order to ensure your claim is active you should file your lawsuit in court within two years of the violation by your employer. If it is considered a willful violation, you have 3 years to file a lawsuit.

To help to ensure you are following the correct path with your lawsuit you should ask an employment law attorney to work on your behalf. When your unpaid overtime lawsuit is settled you should get liquidated damages and court and attorney fees included in your settlement.

Complete the Free Case Evaluation

Before you start the process of filing a lawsuit to get your overtime paid you should seek a free case evaluation to get connected with a wage theft attorney. This will help to point you in the right direction to get the wage theft claim settled as soon as possible.

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