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The Top 3 Ways Companies Avoid Paying Workers Overtime

February 17, 2017 Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages

How to tell if you’re getting shortchanged

Have you ever suspected that your paycheck was light?

If so, you’re not alone.

According to the Sheller Center for Social Justice at Temple University, tens of thousands of low-wage workers in Philadelphia are victims of wage theft on a weekly basis. In fact, victims of wage theft may lose as much as 15% of their pay.

So how can you tell if it’s happening to you? Look out for these three things.

1. You’ve been misclassified

Whether or not you’re eligible for overtime under federal law is dependent on your classification as exempt or non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

“Exempt” refers to exempt from overtime. “Non-exempt” status refers to employees who are not exempt from overtime. In other words, the employer is generally required to pay a non-exempt employee time-and-one-half for any time worked over 40 hours per week.

Misclassifying someone as “exempt” is a key way many companies duck out of paying overtime.

Here are few questions to ask if you think you may have been mis-classified:

  1. Does your salary come out to more than $455 per week?
  2. Do you manage other workers?
  3. Do you have the authority to hire or fire?
  4. Does your job involve decision making related to the strategy or direction of the business?

If you answered no to any of those questions, you may have been misclassified.

2. Hours are missing

Are you paid for all the hours you work?

If your employer deducts time for so-called non-work activities, you may be able to make a case for wage theft and unpaid overtime.

For example, several Philadelphia restaurants have recently come under fire for failing to pay kitchen staff for prep time. We have also seen cases in which mechanics were only paid for the time they were working on cars, but not the “waiting” time in between repairs.

In general, you are entitled to compensation for every hour worked. (However, there are some exceptions for time spent putting on and taking off gear while off-the-clock. Workers who are covered by collective bargaining agreements may also be subject to different rules.)

3. Failure to pay time-and-a-half

Employers may also just flat-out refuse to pay time-and-a-half to eligible employees.

Often, this action is accompanied by intentionally confusing explanations. For example, an employer may claim that a pay period was altered, or that the overtime hours were offset by hours worked during a different week.

Keep in mind, any reasoning that is overly complicated may be a red flag that you’re being shortchanged.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you believe that you haven’t been paid overtime in accordance with the law, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney.

Email us at, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.