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Don't fall for these tricks that can cheat you out of overtime

Most employers are perfectly aware that they need to pay their employees overtime when those employees work more than 40 hours in a week -- but some still try to skirt the law to save a few bucks.

How do they do that and avoid being reported to the government for a wage violation? They usually try to convince their employees that they aren't actually due the money.

Here are some of the "dirty tricks" dishonest employers will sometimes use to convince employees that they aren't due overtime:

Hour spreading

Sure you worked 50 hours last week, but "to make up for it," your employer just has you working 30 this week. That averages out to just 40 per week for the whole two weeks. Your employer then tells you that you aren't due overtime because it's all in the same pay period.

Paying a salary

A lot of employees incorrectly believe that if they are on a salary -- no matter how meager -- they're no longer entitled to overtime. Essentially, they think they've traded the security of a regular paycheck for their employer's ability to work them to death -- but that's untrue. There are a number of salaried employees who are considered "nonexempt" by the Fair Labor Standards Act -- which means they are still entitled to overtime if they earn less than $455 per week or $27.63 per hour. You can determine your own status by looking more at information provided by the Department of Labor.

Using "independent contractors"

There can be a fine line between an independent contractor and an employee. The more your company controls your time, your work hours, your manner of work, your ability to hire other help, your ability to work for others and so on, the more likely you are an employee -- not an independent contractor. Misclassification is incredibly common and an easy way for unscrupulous employers to skirt the rules.

If you think you've been improperly denied overtime, it may be wise to find out more about your legal options. Your labor has value -- and nobody should be getting that for free! Our office may be able to help you learn more.

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