What Damages Are Available If My Employer Has Not Paid Me for Overtime Correctly?
Employees who work more than the standard 40-hour workweek are entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If an employer fails to pay their employees the correct amount of overtime pay, or if they fail to pay overtime in a timely fashion (usually in the same payday that the same week’s “regular pay” is disbursed), then the employees can pursue legal damages against that employer.
This assumes that the employee’s claim for damages is not time-barred by an expired statute of limitations – which the FLSA (as well as almost every U.S. state) has set at two years. If your period of unpaid overtime was more than two years ago, your claim will be time-barred by an expired statute. In this article, we will discuss the types of damages available to employees who have not received proper overtime pay.
Unpaid Overtime – Damages Equal to What Is Owed
The most common type of damages sought by employees is unpaid overtime pay. If an employee has worked more than 40 hours in a workweek and has not received overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular rate of pay, they can sue their employer for unpaid overtime wages, and the FLSA guarantees they can seek at least the amount they should have been paid. The amount of unpaid overtime pay is calculated by multiplying the number of hours worked over 40 by 1.5 x the employee’s regular rate of pay.
For example, if an employee’s regular rate of pay is $15 per hour, they should be paid $22.50 per hour for overtime work (1.5 times their regular rate of pay). If the employee worked 10 hours of overtime in a workweek and did not receive the correct overtime pay, they would be owed $225 in unpaid overtime wages.
Liquidated Damages as Compensation for the Delay In Getting Paid
In addition to unpaid overtime pay, employees can also seek liquidated damages. The FLSA sets Liquidated damages equal to the amount of unpaid overtime wages owed to the employee. This means that if an employee is owed $225 in unpaid overtime wages, they can also seek an additional $225 in liquidated damages.
The purpose of liquidated damages is to compensate the employee for the delay in receiving their overtime pay. Liquidated damages are automatically awarded unless the employer can prove that they acted in good faith and had reasonable grounds for believing that they were not violating the FLSA.
Coverage of Your Attorneys’ Fees and Court Costs
If an employee wins a lawsuit for unpaid overtime pay and liquidated damages, they may also be entitled to coverage – by their employer – for the employee’s attorneys’ fees and court costs. This means that the employer would have to pay the employee’s legal bills and any expenses associated with the lawsuit.
Attorneys’ fees and court costs can be quite significant, especially if the case goes to trial. Employers may be more willing to settle a case before it goes to trial in order to avoid paying these additional expenses.
Punitive Damages Intended to Discourage Employer Noncompliance with FLSA
Punitive damages are damages that are awarded to punish the employer for their actions. Punitive damages are not available in every case, but they may be awarded if the employer’s actions were particularly egregious.
For example, if an employer intentionally and willfully violated the FLSA by not paying their employees overtime wages, the court may award punitive damages in addition to unpaid wages, liquidated damages, attorneys’ fees, and court costs.
State Law Damages: Protection Above and Beyond FLSA
In addition to the damages available under the FLSA, employees may also be entitled to damages under state law. Many states have their own overtime laws that provide additional protections for employees. For example, Ohio’s Minimum Wage law provides for TRIPLE (3x) damages to the employee if an employer fails to pay the correct amount of overtime pay ot neglects to pay overtime wages in a timely fashion. In West Virginia, state law damages are calculated at 2x the amount of unpaid overtime.
In conclusion, employees who have not received proper overtime pay are entitled to a variety of damages under the FLSA and state law. If you believe that your employer has not paid you the correct amount of overtime pay, it is important to consult with an experienced employment law attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options.