January 25, 2019

Unpaid Overtime – What Are My Rights?

Unpaid Overtime

Americans work longer hours than most people in the world. In fact, the United States is one of the few nations on this planet that doesn’t set a maximum limit on the number of hours a person can work. Thus, the majority of working adults — 85.8 percent of men, and 66.5 percent of women — are clocking in more than 40 hours of work per week.

Fortunately, the state of Wisconsin has laws designed to compensate workers for overtime. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is the State Overtime Law?

The Wisconsin state overtime law is simple: Unless you work in an exempted position, you must receive one-and-a-half times your “regular rate of pay” for any and all hours over 40 that you work in a given work week.  There is also a federal law that is very similar.

There are a number of exempted positions. These include, but are not limited to:

  • agricultural employees.
  • domestic workers in a private residence.
  • some administrative, executive, and professional employees.
  • people working in sales or on commission.
  • cab drivers.
  • truck drivers and other motor carriers covered by federal transportation regulations.
  • people working in car dealerships.
  • movie theater employees.
  • workers in nonprofit organizations.

The law defines the work week as a period of seven days, or 168 consecutive hours. If you normally receive a check every two weeks, employers must still calculate overtime based on the hours worked in a given week rather than averaging the hours out over both weeks.

“Regular rate of pay” refers to an hourly rate. If you receive a salary and are eligible for overtime, your employer still needs to calculate overtime based on what your hourly rate would be.

It’s important to realize that employers are free to set the work schedule however they see fit. They are legally allowed to make overtime mandatory, and they also have the right to change an employee’s schedule to prevent an employee from working overtime hours.

What Recourse Do You Have if Your Employer Doesn’t Pay Overtime?

If you are not working an exempt position, your first step is to submit an official complaint seeking back wages to your local Departments of Labor Office. If they cannot resolve the dispute, you can then file a civil suit requesting the back wages and additional damages from the employer.  These filings are best done with the help of a lawyer.

Not only does the law ensure you get paid the overtime premium for hours you work in a week in excess of 40, but the law also protects you from retaliation if you complain about not getting paid what you deserve.

Contact GCW’s Employment Attorneys

At the law offices of Gingras, Cates & Wachs, we understand that you have bills to pay and savings to maintain. That’s why, when an employer tries to avoid paying you your fair share, we will fight aggressively on your behalf. Contact our employment lawyers for a free consultation today to see if we can help you recover wages that are rightfully yours.


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