FLSA Overtime Wage Claims
Oregon employees have two separate sets of laws which may require employers to pay their employees overtime wages. Overtime laws, in the context of this article, require the employer to pay 1 1/2 times the normal rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a single workweek. There are other situations where overtime could apply, but for most employees, the 40 hour workweek is the time frame that entitles employees to overtime premium wages.
Most employees are entitled to overtime premium wages when they work more than 40 hours in a single workweek. Either from Oregon’s overtime laws, or from the federal counterpart called the FLSA (aka “Fair Labor Standards Act”). This blog discusses some factors which make the FLSA more advantageous to employees. It does not explore what factors make Oregon’s overtime laws more advantageous. Each set of laws can be more beneficial in the correct circumstances.
Liquidated Damages as a Penalty for Failing to Pay Overtime Wages
When an employer fails to pay overtime wages under the FLSA, the employee is entitled to the unpaid overtime wages, plus an amount equal to the unpaid overtime wages as liquidated damages. Where the employer has been failing to pay overtime wages for a while, and the employee has worked lots of unpaid overtime hours, the liquidated damages can be significant. For instance, an employee working just 5 hours of overtime per week, for 50 weeks (1 year less 2 weeks of vacation), at $12 per hour, the employee would be due $4,500 in unpaid overtime wages. In addition, the employee is likely due another $4,500 in liquidated damages under the FLSA. Going back the maximum of 3 years, the employee would be due $13,500 in overtime and the same as liquidated damages under the FLSA, for a total of $27,000. This is far greater than could be recovered under Oregon law in this circumstance.
The Employee Bringing an FLSA Overtime Claim Assumes Less Risk
Unlike Oregon’s overtime laws, the FLSA overtime laws do not provide attorney fees to an employer that prevails on the wage claim. Attorney fees can be a significant deterrent, especially in situations where the employee is required to rely solely upon the employer’s records. By limiting the harm if the claim is not prevailed upon, more employees can file claims for the unpaid overtime wages.
Other Considerations that Lead to Filing of an FLSA Overtime Claim
The FLSA includes more items in the calculation of your hourly rate for overtime purposes. For instance, bonuses and travel pay, can be considered wages for purposes of calculating the rate overtime should be paid under the FLSA. For instance, if an employee works 50 hours, makes $10 an hour, and receives a production bonus of $100 the overtime would be calculated like this:
$500 (50 * $10 per hour) + $100 (production bonus) = $600
$600 (total regular wages paid) / 50 (hours worked in workweek) = $12.00 per/hour
Thus, under this example the employee would be do overtime wages calculated at $12 per hour, not $10 per hour.
Sometimes it is simply more advantageous to file your overtime claim under the FLSA. Other times, it may be more advantageous to file your claim under Oregon’s overtime laws. The lawyers at Schuck Law are familiar with both and can help employees navigate these confusing laws to determine the best way to proceed.
Google By David Schuck