Employment laws are designed to ensure all employees are treated fairly and equally. In the US there are five major employment laws law students are encouraged to know inside out. But now a sixth one is noted as being just as important; overtime laws. 71% of workers say they work overtime regularly, but they’re not always paid fairly for these hours. So, let’s find out what US overtime employment law says employers must do.
US employment law states that employees must be paid a wage that’s greater than their normal pay for any hours worked over a set threshold. This threshold is usually 40 hours per week. However, Kansas has the threshold set at 46 hours and Minnesota works to 48 hours. In some states, overtime law differs and overtime must be paid when more than 8 hours per day are worked. The states that follow this legislation are Alaska, California, Nevada, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Federal and state overtime laws sometimes cross over. But employers must follow the one that provides the employee with the largest financial reward.
Not every US worker is eligible for overtime pay. Non-exempt employees are typically bona fide executives. These are workers who earn at least $455 per week, primarily manage the enterprise, have the authority to hire and fire, and direct the work of at least two other employees. Despite this law, US courts have recently ruled in favor of some workers who employers have considered bona fide executives. However, the road to this decision can be long and legal assistance is always advised. The Nunez Law Firm in Phoenix, AZ states that “helping those facing difficult, often complex, legal situations,” is their specialist area. They add “We empower our clients through justice”. Getting the right legal solution to an overtime pay issue anywhere in the US takes time and patience and all claimants should be made aware of this.
As a law student, you need to familiarize yourself with pioneering cases regarding overtime laws. In February 2023, the Supreme Court ruled that Michael Hewitt, a worker earning more than $200,000 per year, was entitled to overtime pay. At times, Hewitt worked more than 80 hours per week and was paid more than $900 per day. But, the judge ruled that because Hewitt was paid daily rather than weekly, the regulations did not apply to him. Therefore, he was entitled to overtime pay from his employer, Helix Energy Solutions Group, who he worked for between 2014 and 2017. Another example of an employer failing to follow overtime legislation is Lakeside Roofing & Contracting LLC. 53 employees were recently awarded more than $166,000 in back pay after the company failed to record work hours accurately and paid straight time for overtime hours.
There’s a clear need for overtime laws in the US as some employers take advantage of their workers. Make sure you understand them thoroughly so you can advise your clients accurately when you qualify as a lawyer.