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Is it wage theft if your employer denies you overtime pay?

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2023 | Employment Law |

Wage theft refers to any violation or denial of an employee’s lawful wages. It occurs when employers fail to compensate their workers according to established labor laws and regulations. This can include various wage-related violations, such as non-payment of overtime, underpayment, minimum wage violations or illegal deductions.

Overtime pay is a crucial aspect of fair compensation for employees working beyond their regular hours. In Florida, overtime pay should be one and a half times your regular hourly wage. Overtime pay should help incentivize you to work additional hours to promote the company. Therefore, it’s fair to feel frustrated if you’re not being rightfully compensated for going the extra mile.

Understanding the concept of wage theft

The denial of overtime pay can be considered wage theft, depending on the circumstances and applicable labor laws. It is, therefore, essential to differentiate between situations where overtime pay is genuinely owed and instances where exemptions apply.

In some instances, employees may be exempt from receiving overtime pay based on their job duties, salary level and classification. These exemptions are generally defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Common exemptions include executive, administrative, professional and certain specialized roles.

However, employers must classify their employees and ensure compliance with labor laws accurately. Whether intentional or unintentional, misclassification can lead to wage theft claims if employees who are entitled to overtime pay are improperly classified as exempt.

The consequences of wage theft

If an employer intentionally denies overtime pay to eligible employees without proper justification, it can be deemed wage theft. Such violations can result in legal consequences, including legal claims, penalties and fines. You should, therefore, know your overtime pay rights if you hope to hold your employer accountable.

While exemptions exist for certain positions, denying overtime pay without valid reasons can be considered wage theft. Employers must understand and comply with labor laws regarding overtime pay to help avoid legal consequences. Similarly, employees should know their rights and take action if they suspect wage theft.