While many of Minnesota’s fine businesses treat their employees fairly and with all due respect, not all companies are so aboveboard. Often times, employees end up looking at their time cards and realizing that they aren’t actually getting paid for those overtime hours they put in. This can be a small amount or this can be years of unpaid overtime. If you are suffering a wage violation, how do you go about getting that money back?
Determining the Amount of Overtime Wages Owed
Your first step needs to be determining how much your company actually owes you. This is not only for your own records, but it will help you make the decision on whether or not you need to bring an attorney into the affair. For many, the unpaid overtime is not enough to merit the legal fees it would take to pursue it in court, but when you haven’t been paid your overtime for half your career, it is definitely a significant amount that will require an experienced attorney.
As you are determining how much you are owed, be sure to calculate the number after looking over your offer letter, employment agreement, employee handbook, old pay stubs, and time cards. As an employee, you have the right to all those records and many of them will help you determine how you are paid and how you actually should be paid.
Determining Why The Overtime Wages Weren’t Paid
If you aren’t getting paid overtime, there are typically two reasons for it.
The first is that you employer misclassified you as salaried and thus exempted you from overtime. This means that you aren’t getting paid overtime wages even if you work over 40 hours a week because you are a salary employee. However, if your offer letter and employment agreement cited you to be hired on as hourly, you have a right to that overtime. There are also certain professions in Minnesota, like paralegals, that can get paid overtime despite being salary.
The second situation that can prevent you from getting your overtime pay is by not letting you track it. Your employer might say you can track it next week and they will pay you then, otherwise known as flex payments, but then you never see those hours. When an employer doesn’t let you mark overtime on your pay card or tries to talk you out of it that is not only highly suspect, but illegal.
Starting the Process
If you have a significant amount of overtime owed to you, you will need an experienced attorney to help you navigate the difficult legal process. However, no matter if you are owed a couple hundred or a couple thousand, the beginning process of getting your money is the same – send a letter.
A demand letter is like a declaration of your rights as a worker. If you have determined that you are not getting overtime wages, and you should be, then the first step is to craft a demand letter and send it in to either the head of the Human Resources Department, if one exists, or to the President or CEO of the company. As a worker, you have rights, and the right to overtime pay is written in the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act. Referencing that act alone is often enough to force their hand, especially if the amount is low enough, so that no lawyers need be involved.
However, if they refuse your demand letter, the next step is to contact your attorney to proceed into proper legal action. If you suspect your employer owes you a substantial amount of overtime in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, contact us today.