While no laws limit how much overtime employers can require from adults who work for them, an employer must compensate their employees adequately as outlined by minimum wage and overtime laws. If the employer fails to pay a non-exempt worker the overtime wages they earned, this is wage theft. The employer can face serious consequences, and the employee has the right to take action to collect the money they earned.
Overtime Pay Under North Carolina Labor Laws
North Carolina’s overtime pay laws echo the federal statutes, requiring all employers to pay employees time and a half for any work required over 40 hours. This is true with most employees unless they meet the standards to be exempt from overtime. Time and a half pay is the minimum for overtime wages, and some employers may choose to pay more, although this is rare.
Calculating overtime pay in North Carolina is not as complex as many think. Imagine you earn $10 an hour at your job in Charlotte. Last week, you worked 45 hours. Your paycheck should include:
- 40 hours at $10 an hour, equaling $400 in regular time wages; and
- 5 hours at $15 an hour (your $10 per hour times 1.5) equaling $75 in overtime pay
Ensuring Your Employer Calculates Your Overtime Properly
One of the biggest mistakes — or tricks, when acting intentionally — employers make when it comes to avoiding overtime pay is averaging hours over two workweeks. The employer might reason that they are obeying the law because they are paying you for the hours you work on the same paycheck, but this is wage theft.
Consider the following example:
- You work 50 hours one week and 30 the next. Your employer averages these 80 hours over two weeks, paying you for 40 hours per week. He avoids paying you 10 hours of overtime. This is wage theft.
Overtime is based on a single workweek. There are no exceptions to this rule. Your employer can have your week begin on Sunday, Monday, or any other day of the week he chooses, so long as it remains the same and he looks at only a single week for overtime purposes.
If your employer attempts to average your hours over two weeks, claims you did not work overtime because of the number of hours you worked in a single day, or makes any other attempt to calculate overtime using any method besides evaluating how many hours you worked in a single workweek, it has most likely violated wage payment laws, and you would be entitled to recover your unpaid overtime.
Overtime Pay for Salaried Employees
Some salaried employees are exempt from overtime based on their job duties and pay rate, but it is important to note that receiving a salary alone is not enough to classify a worker as exempt from overtime. In general, to be exempt from overtime pay, you must:
- Be an executive; or
- Supervise other employees; or
- Work in an administrative role that requires “independent judgment and discretion;” or
- Work in certain professional roles; and
- Meet additional criteria.
Some employers, however, will offer a salary to avoid overtime pay. Others may even purposefully misclassify workers to avoid paying time and a half for any extra hours worked.
Legally, however, no matter how your employer chooses to pay you, non-exempt employees must receive overtime pay for any hours they work over 40 each week. If your employer pays you on salary, but you do not believe you are exempt from overtime, we recommend tracking your hours worked each week. Most salaried employees do not clock in and out, so this will create the only record of the hours you worked.
When you reach out to our team for your free case review, we can evaluate your job duties and other factors to see if you are overtime-exempt or if your employer engaged in wage theft by failing to pay you overtime.
Discuss Your Concerns About NC Overtime with an Employee Rights Attorney
The employment attorneys and the rest of the employment law team from Gibbons Law Group, PLLC are standing by to answer your questions and address your concerns about whether your employer paid you overtime as directed under both federal and state laws.
We offer free case reviews and can help you understand your rights if your employer failed to pay you adequately for the time you worked. Failing to pay overtime is wage theft, and you may be able to take legal action to recover your missing wages.
Call us today at 704-612-0038 to schedule a time to meet with a member of our team.