Risking My Job By Asking for Overtime?

Dear Compliance Man,

I’m a construction worker and since I’ve worked for my boss I’ve never seen overtime. There are times when I’ll work well over 40 hours and not get overtime. Isn’t this illegal?

You’re probably thinking: why don’t you just say something to your boss? I guess I never had the courage, but I’m meeting with him today and I’m going to say something about all of this. I’m nervous, but this is my life and I work very hard for my living and I just want what’s mine. If it turns out that I’m being ripped off can I get back pay?

–Shorted in Sturbridge

Dear Shorted,

Thanks for writing. Your suspicions are right on the money. You should be getting at least time and a half your regular hourly rate anytime you work more than 40 hours in a week. The good news is that you can get some of that money back by filing a claim for overtime under either the federal or state minimum wage laws.

As you prepare to file your claim, it’s a good idea to try to assemble as much documentation as you can–pay stubs, your own notes about when and where you worked–anything that shows a history of your employer breaking the law. Keep in mind that there is a statute of limitation for overtime claims, meaning that you have to file your claim within a certain period of time, two years for overtime claims, three years for prevailing wage claims. Also, under state law, you may be entitled to triple damages if it’s determined that your employer’s violations were “intentional.” In addition, if you make a claim under state law and it is successful, you’re also entitled to collect attorney’s fees. Both the federal and state statutes prohibit retaliation against you because you file a claim for overtime wages due under the law.

If this sounds confusing–and legal matters almost always are–give us a call at 1-877-507-3247. We’d be happy to help you prepare your claim.

Good luck!

For more commonly asked Compliance Man questions, visit the Compliance Man archives. Send your question to info@ffcm.org.