What is Overtime Pay?
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as well as both New Jersey and New York State wage and hour laws, most employees are legally entitled to be paid time-and-a-half when they work more than 40 hours in a particular week. This is called overtime pay.
Am I Entitled to Overtime Pay?
Not every employee is legally entitled to receive overtime pay. Rather there are many exceptions and exemptions to the requirement.
The three primary exemptions from the overtime requirements are for Executives, Administrative and Professional Employees. These categories have somewhat misleading names and are fairly narrowly defined. More information is available on our minimum wage page.
Even if you do not fall into one of those three categories, there are many other categories of employees who are exempt from the overtime pay requirement. They include any employee who is exempt from the minimum wage requirement, as well as certain commissioned employees working for retail companies, employees who sell cars, trucks, boats or certain other vehicles to consumers and employees who work for railroads and airlines, among others.
Salaried Employees Can Be Entitled to Overtime Pay
Many employees believe they are not entitled to overtime pay simply because they are paid a salary instead of by the hour. However, that is not necessarily true. Many salaried employees are entitled to receive overtime pay. Regardless of how you are paid, you are entitled to be paid time-and-a-half for your overtime hours each week in which you work more than 40 hours unless you fall into an exempt category. Otherwise, a company could avoid paying its employees overtime simply by providing them a salary instead of paying them by the hour.
Compensatory Time Off Generally is Not a Substitute
Private companies are not permitted to give employees paid time off instead of paying them time-and-a-half for their overtime hours. In other words, they cannot offer compensatory time instead of overtime pay. However, in both New Jersey and New York, state and local government employers can offer employees the option of compensatory time instead of being paid time-and-a-half for their overtime hours.
Overtime Pay Based on Company Policies and Agreements
Even if you are not legally entitled to overtime pay under state or federal law, some companies have more generous policies. Likewise, some employees are entitled to be paid extra for their overtime hours based on their employment contracts or offer letters.
For instance, some companies voluntarily agree to pay their hourly employees time-and-a-half before they have worked 40 hours per week, or for working on holidays or weekends. Similarly, some companies count paid breaks toward their hours when calculating overtime hours even though there is no legal obligation to do so. These policies and agreements often can be legally enforceable.
Wage and Hour Law Class and Collective Actions
The employment law attorneys at Rabner Allcorn Baumgart & Ben-Asher have handled class and collective actions against companies that have failed to pay overtime to large groups or categories of employees. Frequent victims of wage and hour violations include assistant managers, shift supervisors, loan officers, waiters, waitresses, bartenders, cooks, service technicians, salespeople, nurses and janitors.
Many employees who are denied overtime also are denied minimum wage. More information is available on our minimum wage claims page.
Contact an Experienced Employment Lawyer
Many employers take advantage of the fact that it can be complicated and confusing for employees to determine if they are entitled to overtime pay. Other employers do not understand wage and hour laws correctly. Either way, if you believe your employer is not paying you all of the wages to which you are entitled you can contact us online or call us at (973) 744-4000.