How to Report Unpaid Overtime
In the United States, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lays out provisions that require employers to provide fair compensation to employees for their hours worked. Among other things, FLSA mandates that employers must pay eligible employees an overtime rate of “time- and-a-half” for every hour they work beyond the standard 40-hour workweek.
Unfortunately, many employees in Tennessee and throughout the U.S. are taken advantage of by employers who ignore FLSA wage and hour regulations. One study of employment and labor law violations suggested that as many as 76 percent of employees who worked more than 40 hours in a workweek did not receive the overtime pay to which they were legally entitled.
When employers fail to pay their employees the correct amount for their labor, they are committing wage theft. If you were not paid for the overtime hours you worked, you could have grounds to file an unpaid overtime claim against your employer.
At the Employment and Consumer Law Group, we understand that you may feel hesitant to file a claim against your employer. The decision to take legal action is never an easy one, especially if you’re concerned about jeopardizing your primary source of income. Learn more about your rights by talking to an experienced Tennessee wage and hour lawyer. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
What You Need to Report Unpaid Overtime
Before you file a report for unpaid overtime, it’s a good idea to discuss the issue with your employer directly. In some cases, innocent errors or banking mistakes may be to blame for unpaid wages. Submit a written and dated request to your employer requesting the wages they owe you and maintain a copy for your records.
If your employer ignores or denies your request, your next step will be filing a complaint with either the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor or the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DLWD). You can file a claim in person or by mail at a WHD location in Tennessee or online with the state DLWD.
In your complaint, you will need to provide the following details:
- Your personal information, including your name, address, and phone number
- Your employer’s name, address, phone number, and business type
- Your job title and a description of the work you do
- Wage information, including how much you are paid, how frequently you are paid, and the method of payment your employer uses
- A description of any wage violations you believe your employer has committed
- The date(s) of the wage violations
After you file your complaint, the WHD or Tennessee DLWD will conduct an investigation to determine whether you are entitled to unpaid overtime wages. You may be contacted by the department for more information during their investigation, but your name and the nature of your complaint will be kept confidential from your employer.
How to Know If You Qualify
There are certain types of employees or jobs that are exempt under the FLSA, meaning they do not qualify for overtime pay. These include:
- Executive, administrative, or professional workers who earn a total annual compensation of at least $100,000
- Employees who earn a salary of no less than $455 per week
- Commissioned employees who work at retail or service establishments
- Those who are paid on a salary basis
- Workers who perform the same duties as exempt employees
If you have questions about whether you qualify as an exempt or non-exempt worker, check with your employer’s Human Resources department.
Should I Contact a Lawyer Before Filing a Report?
You are not required to work with an attorney when you file an unpaid overtime report. However, employment and labor laws involve extensive regulations and confusing definitions that often overlap in complicated ways, which can make it difficult to determine your best course of action.
Whether or not you decide to hire a lawyer as you pursue back pay for unpaid overtime, it’s usually a good idea to at least contact a knowledgeable attorney for a case review. Many law firms, including the Employment and Consumer Law Group, offer free consultations. During your consultation, our attorneys can review the details of your complaint and identify your options.
A lawyer can be a valuable asset in the fight to secure unpaid overtime wages. An attorney will:
- Help you determine whether you are an exempt or non-exempt employee
- Determine whether you have been misclassified based on your job duties, job title, or description
- Identify whether your employer has committed any FLSA violations
- Calculate the amount of unpaid overtime wages your employer owes you
- Compose a comprehensive and error-free unpaid wages complaint to submit to state or federal labor departments
- File a lawsuit in civil court if your claim is ignored or denied
- Protect you from illegal retaliation attempts by your employer
Having a lawyer on your side sends a strong message to your employer that you will not be taken advantage of or under-compensated.
How to Get Back Pay for Unpaid Wages
The overtime rate for minimum wage employees in Tennessee is $10.88 per hour or one-and-one-half times the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. If you earn more than the federal minimum wage, you are entitled to at least 1.5 times your regular hourly rate for every hour of overtime you work.
If you are a non-exempt employee and you have reason to believe that your employer owes you back wages for overtime, your first step will be to submit an official complaint to the federal or state Department of Labor. After you submit your complaint, the WHD or Tennessee DLWD will investigate your claim by:
- Examining records from your employer related to its revenue, manufacturing, sales, or hiring practices
- Reviewing your employer’s time and payroll records
- Interviewing individual employees to verify timekeeping and payroll records
- Interviewing employees to determine whether workers should be classified as exempt based on their job duties
- Notifying your employer of any employment or labor violations
- Providing your employer with information about how to correct any violations, including by providing employees with any back pay
If investigations reveal that your employer failed to pay you appropriate overtime wages for any qualifying overtime hours you worked, you may be entitled to back pay as well as additional compensation from your employer. If your employer refuses to provide back pay or if state or federal agencies fail to resolve your claim, you have the right to file an unpaid overtime lawsuit against your employer in civil court.
In Tennessee, you have two years to file a complaint against your employer for unpaid overtime. If your employer willfully violated the FLSA by knowingly refusing to compensate you, the time limit may be increased to three years. Regardless, if you fail to take action before the statute of limitations expires, you could lose your right to file a claim altogether.
The Employment and Consumer Law Group Is Here to Protect You
The Employment and Consumer Law Group has a history of successful case results, including positive outcomes for clients who have filed lawsuits against Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and other large corporations with deep pockets. Our lawyers focus exclusively on employment and consumer law, and we have recovered millions of dollars for clients just like you.
We will use our extensive experience and deep knowledge of Tennessee employment and labor laws to protect your interests and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to discuss the best path to recoup the unpaid overtime you deserve.