Silver Spring FLSA Overtime Attorney
Are there federal laws which require that my employer pay me overtime?
Yes, there are absolutely. The Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") requires that covered employees be paid at least time and a half of their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over forty per workweek. The overtime pay requirement cannot even be waived through a contract executed between you and your employer to do so.
Working in excess of 40 hours can occur even if the employee has not completed any formal overtime hours. For example, if you find yourself coming into work early, working through lunch or staying later simply to catch up on your assignments, each of these circumstances can constitute hours for overtime pay. If the employer was aware of your added hours and failed to stop you from continuing with your informal overtime hours, your employer can and will be charged with this overtime.
Are all employees covered by the FLSA? How do I know if I am?
Not all employees are covered by the FLSA. Federal law has a number of exemptions to the overtime rules. The major categories for exemptions involve executive, administrative, professional and sales persons. Employees who are charged with making decisions for their employers, such as vice presidents, company officers and managers will almost always be exempt from the FLSA. However, there are additional FLSA exemptions such as taxicab drivers, switchboard operators, newspaper delivery persons and federal criminal investigators. Because the list is comprehensive, it is best to review your position description with a labor and employment attorney to determine your eligibility.
How would I prove my case?
The burden of proof for what you were doing generally rests with the employer's records, such as the employer's time sheets and other documents memorializing when you came and left work. There are numerous cases in which the employer advised the employees not to document all hours the employees would be working, such that the resulting time sheet would simply reflect a 9-5 day. In that case, other employees, your co-workers, would have to testify that they were told to not document all of their time as well.
What if my co-workers refuse to testify?
If your co-workers refuse to testify, they can be subpoenaed to testify at deposition or even a trial. It is unlikely that your co-workers would refuse to testify if they have been victimized by the same employer because your co-workers may also be entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA. Many larger companies have been sued in class action lawsuits in which a large percentage of their work force brought a lawsuit contending that the company practice was to fail to pay overtime in accordance with federal law.
Furthermore, it is unlawful for a company to retaliate against an employee for bringing an FLSA case or for even testifying against the employer during one. Consequently, when your co-workers learn of what is to be gained from getting involved, it is not only unlikely they would refuse to testify, it's actually likely they would want to join the lawsuit.
How far back can I go to collect my overtime?
An employee is entitled to go back two years under the FLSA to collect his or her unpaid overtime; however, if the employer willfully violated the statute, the employee is entitled to go back three years. Willful violation of the statute usually refers to employers who were quite aware of the number of hours that their employees were actually working for them and knew that they should have been paying them overtime. Company slogans such as, "our employees go the extra mile" or "the corporate culture here is to stay late," are fine, as long as the company pays the extra mile for overtime. If not, then these slogans may be strong evidence that the company acted in a willful manner.
If I prevail, How much money do I recover?
How much you recover depends upon the egregiousness of your employer's actions. If it is proven that the employer acted in bad faith, in other words the employer was quite aware that you should have been compensated overtime, but you were not, then you will be entitled to not only the overtime owed to you, but an additional amount of money equal to the amount owed to you, as liquidated damages. However, if the employer can show that he failed to pay you overtime in good faith, due to some unintentional error, a court in its discretion can award no liquidated damages.
A large focus in the litigation of these claims pertains to knowledge your employer may have had regarding not only your work hours, but the work hours of all its employees. In addition, we seek to find out the manner in which your employer classified or categorized your position as demonstrated by position descriptions; inter office memos and minutes taken at board of director's meetings. These are just some of the documents we can obtain on your behalf during the course of a lawsuit. If you prevail in your case, the FLSA mandates that reasonable attorney fees be paid to your lawyer.
How much money will it cost me to pursue an overtime case? Is it truly worth the investment?
If you retain our office to represent you in an FLSA overtime case, we take no money up front. We work out a contingency arrangement with you in which there is no legal fee unless we recover for you. Therefore, your risk is minimal and the upside could be substantial.
If you believe that you are owed FLSA overtime pay, we strongly recommend that you contact our office today. The initial consultation is free and the cases require none of your money up front. A strong and aggressive litigation will be pursued on your behalf.