Getting the Overtime Pay You Deserve

Web Admin - Tuesday, June 07, 2016

overtime pay you deserve, Illinois Employment Law Attorneys Countless workers in Illinois are eligible for overtime compensation when they work more than their standard work week worth of hours. For those overtime compensation eligible workers, once 40 hours of work is put in for a week, anything above and beyond that should be compensated at a rate of time and a half. Workers who are typically eligible for overtime pay protections are general laborers (not agricultural laborers), workers who are compensated through tips, and many blue collar workers. Some salaried workers may also be eligible, depending on their circumstances. 

Anyone who believes that they have been wrongly denied compensation for overtime hours that they have worked should consult with an experienced employment law attorney at our law office. Our professionals can help you determine if you are eligible for overtime compensation by your employer. 

Workers’ Overtime Compensation Rights Under the Law

Certain workers are eligible for overtime compensation at a rate of time-and-a-half under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA is a federal law which protects workers from grueling hours without pay. A worker who believes that he or she has been wrongly denied overtime pay can file a claim with the wage and hour division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL will review the employee’s claim, and will determine whether an investigation needs to be conducted into the alleged violation of the FLSA by the employee’s employer. 

When the employee’s claim is found to be valid, the DOL will pursue the back wages from the employer on the worker’s behalf. The employee can also sue his or her employer for owed back wages as well. 

Under the FLSA and Illinois law, workers who are executives, administrators, professionals, and some computer workers who earn at least $455 a week are exempt from overtime compensation. This means that these workers are not entitled to overtime pay if they work more than their standard 40-hour work week. Independent contracts, and some live-in employees are also exempt from unpaid overtime protections. External sales people are also often exempt from overtime pay protection laws. 

There are several exemptions to the overtime pay laws, and these exemptions can be confusing. Tests are used to determine if a worker qualifies for protection, and sometimes it is difficult to determine whether you are eligible under the laws or not. An experienced employment law attorney can help you assess your eligibility for unpaid overtime compensation protection. 

If you are concerned that your employer is not compensating you for overtime that you have worked, and you believe that you are eligible for overtime pay protection under the FLSA and Illinois law, you should consult with an Illinois employment law attorneys today. Our law firm serves the communities of Crystal Lake, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Inverness, and Deer Park. Please call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team.

      Ken Apicella

      About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


When is Overtime Pay Required?

Web Admin - Thursday, May 28, 2015

overtime pay in Illinois, Palatine employment lawyerOvertime pay is an important, but often complicated, issue that employers and employees sometimes have to resolve. For employees, receiving overtime pay is compensation for being asked to work a significant number of hours. However, employers often attempt to find ways, either by legal or, in extreme cases, illegal means, to avoid having to pay overtime compensation.

General Overtime Information

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Illinois law, an employee is entitled to overtime pay when he or she works more than 40 hours in a single workweek. The workweek is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours (seven consecutive 24-hour periods) and is defined by the employer. The workweek does not need to coincide with the calendar week. Instead, the workweek can begin on any day and at any time of the day. While the employer can make the workweek whatever he or she wishes, it is not permissible to average the number of hours worked over a period of two or more weeks.

Overtime pay is paid at a minimum of 150 percent of the employee’s hourly work rate (known as “time-and-a-half”) for the number of hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek. The FLSA does not place a maximum number of hours that an employee over the age of 16 may work in a workweek. Further, there is no provision for overtime pay for work performed on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays, unless work performed on those days results in exceeding the 40-hour rule. Generally, overtime pay is paid on the regular payday for the period in which the wages were earned.

The FLSA provides for several exemptions from the requirement of overtime pay. Exempt from overtime pay are executives, administrative, professional, computer, and outside sales employees who earn over $455 per week. Determining whether an employee fits under one of these categories can be complex and requires examination of the specific work the employee performs. Under Illinois law, other types of workers are also exempt, including, but not limited to:

  1. - Any salesman or mechanic primarily engaged in the selling or servicing of automobiles, trucks or farm implements;
  2. - Agricultural workers; and
  3. - A crew member of any uninspected towing vessel operating in any navigable waters in or along the boundaries of Illinois.

An employee who believes that he or she is entitled to overtime pay can file a lawsuit claiming monetary damages or that requests an injunction that orders the employer to pay the overtime wages. If the employee’s lawsuit is successful, he or she may receive back-pay, as well as liquidated damages in an amount equal to the back-pay.

Help with Employment Issues

For more information or if you believe you have been improperly denied overtime pay, you should speak with an experienced Illinois employment law attorney with experience in employment law and overtime compensation. Our firm represents individuals throughout the northwest suburbs, including areas such as Arlington Heights, Palatine and Crystal Lake. 

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Payment for Unauthorized Overtime

Web Admin - Friday, September 19, 2014

payment for unauthorized overtime, Palatine employment law attorneyThe law related to wage and hour violations is a complex legal area that touches virtually every employee. These laws lay out employees' rights with regard to things like when they may be paid, how much they must be paid, and the various overtime rules. The overtime rules are some of the most difficult, and can often lead to violations by employers, either knowingly or simply by virtue of not understanding their full complexity. Regardless of the reason for the violation, employees should be aware of their legal rights so that they can enforce them in case something goes wrong.

One of the most common issues that arises with overtime is the idea of “unauthorized overtime.” Many companies have a policy in place that requires employees to get supervisor permission before they work overtime, because overtime switches them to an increased hourly salary. However, this policy can cause confusion when an employee works unauthorized overtime. Some companies refuse to pay workers extra for unauthorized overtime work, but that refusal is a violation of federal law.

The Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the major piece of federal legislation governing things like overtime pay and wage and hour violations. For the purposes of the question about unauthorized overtime, the important section is 203(g), which defines the word employ. A company employs someone when it “suffer[s] or permit[s]” the person to work. Such a broad definition of the word employ means that even if the company has not authorized the overtime hours, they are still allowing the overtime work to happen. The fact that they allowed it at all means that the employee must be paid properly for their time, regardless of any company policy. However, employers are still allowed to take certain steps related to authorizing overtime.

What Employers May Do

Just because employers must pay their workers for unauthorized overtime does not mean that they are not allowed to have a system for approving overtime beforehand. Companies are allowed to decide whether they want their employees working extra time or would rather simply have the project completed at a later date. In fact, companies are even allowed to institute disciplinary procedures related to working overtime without the proper authorization. Yet, even with such procedures in place, if the employee still works overtime, they must be paid accordingly, even if they are also disciplined for violating the company policy related to unauthorized overtime.

Employees who have been the victim of wage and hour violations often feel powerless to stand up to their employers. If you believe that you are owed extra overtime pay, contact a skilled Illinois employment lawyer today. Our dedicated team can help provide you with the backup you need to enforce your legal rights as an employee. We assist clients in Palatine, Des Plaines, Buffalo Grove, and those throughout the suburban Chicagoland area.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Overtime Violations in Restaurants

Web Admin - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

illinois overtime violationsWage theft is an increasingly common practice in which employers deprive their workers of wages they are owed through practices like improperly logging their hours or simply failing to pay wages fully and promptly. The problem is serious enough that a report from the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago estimates that workers in Cook County lose more than one million dollars a day to the practice. One of the most common methods of wage theft is through the violation of overtime laws. Overtime in the restaurant industry is a particular problem because of how overtime rules interact with minimum wage provisions and the tip credit.

Understanding the Tip Credit

The tip credit is a specific exception to minimum wage law that allows employers to pay employees less than minimum wage on the assumption that the worker’s tips will make up the difference. Restaurants are one of the main industries that can take advantage of the tip credit because of their high percentage of tipped employees, such as servers and bartenders.

The exact amount of the tip credit varies by state. In Illinois, employers may deduct up to 40 percent of the Illinois minimum wage as tip credit, giving a new minimum wage of $4.95. The tip credit is a complex piece of the minimum wage law that can give rise to a variety of violations by employers. One of the most complicated of these issues related to the tip credit is how it interacts with overtime law.

The Tip Credit and Overtime

Generally speaking, overtime laws require employers to pay their workers one and a half times their hourly wage for working more than 40 hours in a week. However, restaurants and other employers can still take advantage of the tip credit. Unfortunately, many do so incorrectly. The issue is that many employers take the tip credit out before multiplying the hourly wage by one and a half, when they should take it out after. To illustrate the difference, suppose a server works 60 hours in one week and is paid $4.95 an hour plus tips.

For the first 40 hours, the employer can simply pay the $4.95, but for the last 20 they need to start paying overtime. The incorrect way to do the calculation would be to simply multiply the $4.95 wage by 1.5 giving a new wage of $7.43, which would result in a paycheck of $148.60 for those 20 hours. The proper way to perform the calculation is to multiply the full minimum wage, $8.25, by 1.5 to get $12.38, and then subtract the tip credit afterwards to get a minimum wage of $9.08 and a paycheck of $181.60, a serious difference from the incorrect calculation.

If you believe you have been the victim of an overtime violation, contact an Illinois employment lawyer today. Our firm helps clients in many towns across the northwest suburbs, including in Palatine, Barrington, and Schaumburg.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Retaliatory Discharge in Illinois: The Basics

Web Admin - Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Under the “at will” employment doctrine, employers are typically able to fire an employee for virtually any reason. There are some exceptions, however, including statutory rules which prevent employment discrimination against certain protected classes. Another exception is known as a “retaliatory discharge.”

What It Is

Essentially, the law, as outlined by the Illinois Supreme Court, allows an employee to recover damages if they show that they were fired from a job for engaging in legally protected conduct and that their termination violated public policy interests. A 1978 Supreme Court case, Kelsay v. Motorola, Inc. was the first in the state to define this tort.

Historically, there are two general types of situations where employees have won retaliatory discharge cases. The first is where an employee was fired for making a worker’s compensation claim.  To prevail in these situations, the burden is on the employee to affirmatively show that the termination was spurred by their seeking worker’s compensation.

In addition, employers can be liable for a retaliatory discharge when they fire an employee for reporting on improper conduct or refusing to participate in that conduct. For example, in one Illinois case, Palmateer v. International Harvester, an employee was fired after going to the police to share information about a fellow employee’s illegal actions. In another case decided by an Illinois appellate court, an employee won a claim after being fired for refusing to falsify pension plans--which itself violated federal law.

Retaliatory Discharge Damages

To pursue one of these cases, an employee must file a civil lawsuit specifically alleging that they were terminated in violation of these rules. But what sort of damages can the employee recover if they win?

Under Illinois case law, employees who win a retaliatory discharge case are generally able to recover lost wages from the date that the termination occurred until they find a new job. However, that does not mean that the employee can simply do nothing and collect a paycheck. Instead, courts have ruled that the employee has a duty to mitigate their damages by taking reasonable steps to find permanent work.

In addition, depending on the specifics of the case, a plaintiff may also seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the conduct of the employer (instead of merely compensating the harmed party). These damages are only a possibility when the defendant’s conduct is particularly egregious. 

Legal Help

If you have questions about a potential retaliatory discharge case, contact a Palatine employment lawyer today. Call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team. We serve many Northwest Suburban areas including Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and other nearby communities.

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