Although there are numerous federal and state laws that help protect workers, only those who understand the statutes can fully utilize the protections that they afford. For example, most workers understand certain basic protections, like the idea that they deserve payment for time worked and that their wages must meet federal minimum standards. Most people have at least a general idea about the right to overtime pay as well.
When it comes to overtime pay rights, however, workers often don’t fully understand their options and the obligations of their employers. Overtime rules in Washington state largely align with federal statutes, and yet workers frequently overlook overtime wage violations made by their employers.
Companies often try to deceive employees
Given that overtime pay usually costs the company at least 150% of what it typically pays a worker for an hour of their time, many businesses are eager to minimize or outright eliminate overtime wages. They may have zero-overtime policies and require approval for someone to put in more than 40 hours. Some companies will pay workers very low salaries and then claim that exempts them from overtime wage obligations.
Other businesses aim to misclassify workers as independent contractors as a reason to justify denying them overtime pay. Some businesses will even artificially manipulate time clock records to avoid financial responsibility or train workers to believe that they have to perform certain tasks while not on the clock. Workers may consistently put in more than 40 hours of work without receiving the overtime wages they actually deserve.
Workers who learn the truth can fight back
It often only takes one employee asserting their rights to prompt everyone else at a business to start fighting back against wage and overtime violations. After all, if a company refuses to pay one worker for overtime, it probably employs similar tactics with other workers. Workers who can prove that companies haven’t paid them for the overtime they have worked may initiate a wage claim that will result in their compensation for those previously denied wages. In some cases, employers confronted with litigation with settle with workers, compensating them for the unpaid wages and changing company practices. Other times, overtime wage claims will need to go to court.
Learning more about when workers deserve overtime pay and how businesses try to avoid responsibility to their workers can help employees fight for the wages they deserve. Seeking legal guidance can help to provide this clarity.