Many working people in Florida appreciate the chance to work a few extra hours, but can your employer require you to work overtime hours? If you are involved in any dispute with an employer over hours, wages, or overtime, contact a Florida employment rights lawyer at once.
What does Florida law say about overtime hours and wages? Can employers in Florida require mandatory overtime? The answer is “it depends,” but generally speaking, many employers in the State of Florida do in fact have the legal right to require overtime hours from their employees.
Furthermore, the answer will hinge on your line of work and your employment agreement. When the law limits what an employer can require, it is important for workers to understand their employment rights and to understand what constitutes a violation of those rights.
If you continue reading, you’ll learn the key facts about overtime and your employment rights in this state, and you will also learn what steps you should take if an employer in Florida tries to cheat you out of your overtime wages or violates your legal rights in some other way.
What Does the Law Say About Overtime?
Like every working American, workers in Florida are protected under the law from employer discrimination, harassment, or retaliation based on race, age, nationality, religion, disability, gender, or pregnancy.
Florida has also established a number of wage and hour laws, but the law in this state is silent regarding whether or not employers may require overtime work from their employees. Thus, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 governs overtime hours and wages in Florida.
The Fair Labor Standards Act protects every employee’s wage, hour, and overtime rights. Nevertheless, some employers in Florida still try to cheat hard-working employees out of their legally-required overtime wages.
Under the FLSA, most employers have the right to require overtime work from most employees, and no limit is set regarding the amount of overtime that may be required. “Non-exempt” employees may even be asked to work a second shift without receiving any notice in advance.
“Exempt” employees – those employees whose overtime hours are restricted by law – include employees in regulated professions such as nursing and commercial truck driving, where working too many hours could create a serious safety risk.
Some employment contracts also place restrictions on an employer’s right to require overtime, and if you belong to a union, your employer’s right to require overtime may be restricted by your union’s agreement with your employer.
Can You Be Terminated for Refusing Overtime Work?
Unless you are protected (“exempted”) by an employment contract or union contract, employment in Florida is at-will, and an employee may be fired for any reason that’s legal, including a refusal to work overtime.
However, you cannot be fired for an illegal reason – employer discrimination or retaliation, for example. Workers in Florida have a number of employment rights under state and federal law, and if you are the target of a wrongful termination, you have the right to take legal action.
If you believe that you were wrongly terminated from your job, schedule a meeting at once to discuss your rights and legal options with an Ormond Beach employment rights attorney.
Are You Being Paid Properly for Overtime?
Even those employees who relish the opportunity to work overtime may have difficulty with some employers in Florida when it comes to getting paid properly for their overtime hours.
Overtime pay is one and one-half times the employee’s regular hourly wage. Florida’s “overtime minimum wage” is $12.98 an hour, one and one-half times the state’s minimum wage ($8.65 an hour). In most cases, the following workers do not have to be paid time-and-a-half for overtime hours:
- administrators, executives, and other professionals earning at least $455 a week
- external salespersons
- independent contractors (who are not considered employees)
- some live-in employees such as housekeepers
- anyone whose employment contract does not require time-and-a-half pay for overtime
How Do Questionable Employers Cheat Employees?
If your employer is required to pay you time-and-a-half for overtime hours but has failed to do so, you may pursue your back wages and possibly additional damages. Shady employers use a number of schemes to nibble away at your wages and overtime pay. These employers may:
- ask you to work off the clock
- change your time sheet or time card
- pay you “straight time” for overtime hours
- tell you that your overtime pay will show up on the next pay period
Do not let an employer take advantage of you this way. If you are not receiving the overtime pay that your employer owes you, or if your employer is violating any of the state or federal wage-and-hour laws, you should schedule a meeting at once with a Florida employment rights lawyer.
A good employment rights lawyer will assess your claim and help you determine your best legal option. A good employment rights lawyer is also a skilled negotiator who may even be able to obtain a negotiated settlement on your behalf without having to take your employer to court.
But if your employer disputes your claim or refuses to negotiate or to negotiate in good faith, your attorney may take the employer to court, and if you and your attorney can prove that your employer has not paid you what is legally required, a Florida court can find that employer liable.
What Can You Recover With Legal Action?
If an employer retaliates or discriminates against a worker who files a wage claim or speaks with an attorney about employment rights, that employer is violating the law. A Florida employment rights attorney will protect your legal rights and will fight to hold that employer accountable.
If you did not receive the overtime pay that you were owed, and if you prevail in court against the employer, you may receive substantial compensation along with other damages, and in some cases, the court may even order your employer to pay your attorney’s fee.
The amount of compensation that you may be able to recover could largely depend on which attorney you work with. The right attorney’s help can make all the difference. However, you are the person who must take the first step and make the call to an Ormond Beach employment rights attorney.