Overtime pay is not guaranteed for all workers, despite many people believing that it should be. However, for those who are entitled to it due to the nature of their employment or membership in a union, there are strict rules for when it is required. If you believe that you have been denied your rightful overtime pay, you may be able to bring suit to get it back, especially if you believe it is because of discriminatory reasons.
South Carolina, unlike many other states, does not have dedicated overtime laws, instead relying on the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to govern such things. The FLSA states explicitly that any employee who is covered is entitled to be paid at least minimum wage for all hours of work either contracted for or permitted by the employer, and that working over 40 hours per week allows an employee to collect time and a half for those overtime hours. This also applies to meal and break times, as well as situations where an employee is ‘engaged to wait’ – for example, a fireman who reads a book while waiting for an alarm is still considered to be working.
The most common reasons for an employee to be denied overtime pay are innocent, such as miscalculation of the amount of hours worked, or the employer’s honest belief that certain tasks do not constitute work time. However, on certain thankfully rare occasions, such deprivation becomes intentional, and can even be discriminatory.
Do I Have A Case?
Proving that you have not been granted the amount of overtime pay that you are due can be fairly straightforward, but proving the reasons why can be much more difficult. For example, your employer may try to claim you are salaried, which would mean that you were exempt from overtime regulations. However, South Carolina law is very specific about the types of employees that can be considered salaried, as well as the manner and method of paying employees what they are due. If you have not been paid in the accepted fashion, it is a good idea to involve an attorney.
If you believe that you have not been paid overtime due to a mistake or another reason not involving discriminatory intent, it is generally suggested to involve the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) or even the federal Hours and Wages Division at the Department of Labor. In terms of alleged discrimination, however, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles matters involving pay inequity and wrongful termination under laws like Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Be advised that the end result of pursuing a discrimination-based claim will not differ greatly from a purely monetary-based claim (though the fact pattern and proof will be very different indeed), but many prefer to ensure that the employer understands that discrimination is not acceptable. They may even bring private suits if the EEOC declines to intervene in their employer’s alleged discriminatory behavior.
Seek An Employment Law Attorney
Being denied your rightful due is intolerable, especially when you have a family or loved ones to provide for, and it is important to hold those who try accountable. Attorney A. Christopher Potts and his firm of Hitchcock & Potts have been protecting the rights of employees for many years, and will do their best to protect yours. Contact our Charleston offices today to set up a free consultation, either via website or via phone at 843-577-3000.