The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law that governs the payment of the minimum wage and overtime pay. It requires most employers to pay overtime to employees at a rate of at least 1.5 for all “hours worked” over 40 hours in any work week, defined as a 7-day period.
Even if you are paid every two weeks and work fewer than 40 hours during the second week or do not total 80 hours for the two week pay period, you still are entitled to overtime pay for any workweek in which you worked 40 or more hours.
The FLSA normally permits employees to recover unpaid overtime for work performed beginning two years before a lawsuit is filed in court (and continuing "forward" until the case is resolved). You may be eligible to recover for work performed beginning three years before a lawsuit is filed if your employer "knew" that its employment and pay practices violated the FLSA, but "disregarded" these obligations.
Unpaid Overtime and Liquidated Damages
An employee who brings a successful overtime pay lawsuit can recover his/her unpaid wages and liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are defined by the FLSA as being double the unpaid wages due to the employee. Thus, if you are awarded $5,000 in unpaid overtime wages, you may be entitled to get an additional $5,000 as liquidated damages, bringing your total recovery to $10,000. These damages essentially are awarded in stead of lost interest.
In rare circumstances, an employer can avoid paying liquidated damages if it shows that it acted in good faith and had a reasonable basis to believe its overtime pay practices complied with the law. Under the FLSA, "good faith" has a special meaning and requires employers to demonstrate that they made a specific investigation into the application of the FLSA to the particular situation.
If you win the case, the FLSA also requires the employer to reimburse you for your out-of-pocket litigation expenses and pay an additional attorneys' fee award.
"Stopping the Clock"
Perhaps one of the most important things to understand about the FLSA is that nothing but the filing of a lawsuit in court will "stop the clock" from running on your overtime claim. This means that a complaint to your supervisor, the company, or the Department of Labor generally will not “stop the clock.” For this reason, employees are strongly encouraged to understand their overtime pay rights and file suit as soon as they learn that their employer violated overtime law. Every day that passes without filing suit is one less day of work for which an employee can recover.
Types of FLSA Lawsuits
To bring an overtime pay lawsuit, you should contact a lawyer. If a lawsuit already is on file with the court and is a collective action open to participation by employees similarly situated to the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit, you generally may join the lawsuit by completing and returning the consent form provided by the lawyer who filed the lawsuit. Unlike class actions, you are not required to join the lawsuit. Moreover, if participation in the collective action is closed or you prefer to pursue your own claim, you may file your own lawsuit.
Texas Overtime Lawyer
Dallas, Texas overtime lawyer Barry Hersh explains overtime rights in plain English and aggressively represents employees in overtime pay lawsuits. The Hersh Law Firm is available to pursue unpaid overtime claims for employees all over Texas, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, El Paso, and San Antonio. To submit your claim for a free evaluation, contact us here.