Do I have a right to receive overtime pay under the federal law?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exists to protect workers from unpaid wages, overtime pay violations and more. However, not all workers can receive protection under the FLSA, so it's important that you educate yourself on the limitations of this law before you start working for any potential employer.

Let's say you're working at a construction site as a painter. Are you covered by the FSLA, or are you an FSLA-exempt employee? Keep reading, and you'll be better-equipped to answer these questions.

FSLA-exempt employees: Who are they?

By virtue of the FSLA, the majority of U.S. employees can receive overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours per week. Overtime pay must be the equivalent of one-and-a-half times the workers' normal hourly pay rate. That said, just because your employer pays you overtime does not mean that your employer calculated the amount correctly. As such, be sure to check your overtime pay with a calculator to determine that you have received the full amount you're owed.

Also, be sure to check that you're not an FSLA-exempt employee who cannot receive overtime. The Fair Labor Standards Act lists numerous exemptions. For example, many employees will fall under the category of a white-collar exemption. These employees include various professional employees, executives, computer professionals, administrative office staff and outside sales employees. Some service and retail organizations may also be exempt from paying their employees overtime.

Employers love having FSLA-exempt employees on staff because they don't have to monitor their employees' hours, and they're never responsible to pay overtime. Even if an exempt employee worked 80 hours in a week (double-time), the employer may not have to pay overtime.

Don't rely on your boss: Ask a lawyer if you're exempt

It's not uncommon for a Missouri workplace to miscategorize an employee as exempt, when in fact he or she has a right to receive overtime pay under the FSLA. If your boss told you that you can't receive overtime, but you suspect that you can, be sure to discuss the issue with a qualified employment law attorney. Your lawyer can advocate on your behalf and fight for your right to receive overtime pay.

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