At Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil, LLC, our wage and hour attorneys are frequently called upon to help clients who are not receiving pay for the extra hours they work, or unpaid overtime. Although not all Illinois employees are entitled to overtime pay, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Illinois Overtime Law, most hourly employees who work a 40-hour week are.
If you are being short-changed at your place of employment, contact us for a consultation. Once we determine that you are being treated unfairly, we will use our well-honed legal tactics and in-depth knowledge of employment law to fight aggressively for your rights.
By the same token, our wage and hour attorneys are available to assist employers who feel they are being taken advantage of by their employees. If you are a business owner facing the financial, legal, and morale challenges of an unpaid overtime claim, we will provide you with the legal advocacy you need. Whichever side of an unpaid overtime dispute you are on, we are on your side.
What the Law Says About Unpaid Overtime
Like the FLSA, the Illinois Overtime Law requires that non-exempt employees receive overtime pay equal to one and a half times their regular hourly pay for any hours over 40 worked in a single week. All employers are covered by this regulation, even those with only a single employee.
You should be aware that your employer can require you to work overtime, and that Illinois statutes (unlike those of some other states) do not specify a daily overtime limit. It is also important to be aware that, in general, unpaid overtime claims must be filed within 3 years of the occurrence.
Why You Need Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil
We are skilled negotiators who may be able to win a just settlement without a trial, but are well-prepared to litigate if necessary. We have extensive experience with unpaid overtime disputes and a history of successful outcomes both in and out of the courtroom.
It is never a good idea to try to handle legal matters without skilled legal representation. Nowhere is this more evident than in wage and hour claims in which employees are likely to be facing high-priced company lawyers. This is why it is critical to have a savvy employment attorney at your side.
How Overtime Pay Works in Illinois
In Illinois, the minimum wage is currently $11.00 an hour, so, if you are earning minimum wage, overtime pay is one and a half times that amount, or $16.50 per hour. Whether your work involves manual labor (e.g. construction or factory work), clerical duties or retail work, you will typically be entitled to overtime pay if you work over 40 hours in a calendar week. So, if at minimum wage you normally earn $440 a week, if you work an extra 8 hour shift one week ($132), your pay for the week will increase to $572.
All non-exempt employees who are paid by the hour are legally entitled to overtime pay whenever they work more than 40 hours during a single week. Moreover, that overtime pay must not be less than one and a half times their regular rate of pay. Exempt employees, however, are not entitled to overtime pay.
Which employees are exempt from overtime pay?
The following employees are considered exempt, i.e. not covered by the Illinois and federal laws that require overtime pay:
- Employees who are salaried rather than paid on an hourly basis
- Employees who perform high-level administrative or managerial duties
- Employees who function as outside sales representatives
- Professionals, such as doctors, lawyers or accountants
- Employees who work for more that one employer (freelancers)
It’s important to understand that duties performed, not title, define exemption status. Thus, an employer is not off the hook for overtime pay because he/she designates an employee as a “supervisor” or “manager,” if that individual spends all day working as a cashier.
Reasons for Unpaid Overtime
Unpaid overtime is one of the most common complaints in wage and hour disputes. Typically it occurs when an employer misclassifies an employee as exempt, i.e. not protected by overtime pay laws. At times, such misclassifications are innocent mistakes, but too often they are ways to avoid paying employees what they are actually owed.
Another ploy used by unscrupulous employers to avoid paying overtime is to have employees work during a break and fail to count the period as time spent working. If you are expected to answer the phone or receive packages while eating lunch, this period must be factored into your work hours; if it extends your day into overtime, you are entitled to be paid time and a half.
Exceptions to Exemptions
Federal overtime pay law pinpoints certain workers as recipients of overtime pay, regardless of other criteria. Realizing the potential for exploitation of workers who already work long, difficult hours, the FLSA specifically provides overtime protection for all first-responders, including police, paramedics, and firefighters, as well as for practical nurses and paralegals.
Damages Our Unpaid Overtime Attorneys Will Fight to Win
If you have been cheated out of overtime pay, we will fight vigorously to bring you your lost back wages. In addition, we may be able to persuade the court to order your employer to pay your attorneys’ fees as well as penalties to punish the company for violating labor laws.
Contact Our Experienced Unpaid Overtime Attorneys Today
At Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil, our conscientious lawyers are strongly committed to defending your right to be paid the amount you have earned and not a penny less. Don’t allow yourself to be victimized by a double-dealing employer. Get in touch with us now so we can begin providing you with the strong, caring support you need and deserve.