Baby Boomers invented the term “workaholic,” and then in the 90s, the Dilbert comic strips satirized office culture, but for the younger generation, all work and no play is a way of life. Sometimes it seems like people are working more and more hours for less and less pay and less and less job security. While the law leaves plenty of loopholes that allow employers to pile unmanageable workloads on their employees for little reward, federal and state laws contain provisions requiring a higher rate of pay for hours worked in excess of a full-time schedule. Even though the text of the laws sounds unambiguous, employers will sometimes deny that the hours you worked in a certain week are eligible for overtime pay. The Minneapolis overtime pay and wage dispute lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can help you resolve disputes with your employer about overtime pay.
Federal and State Overtime Laws in Minnesota
According to federal law, set by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, workers are entitled to overtime pay during weeks when they work more than 40 hours. The rate of overtime pay must be at least 1.5 times the worker’s agreed upon hourly wage. Meanwhile, Minnesota law requires small businesses (with gross annual receipts of less than $500,000) to provide overtime pay during work weeks where the employee works 48 hours or more. The overtime rate of 1.5 times the hourly wage still applies. Only hours spent working count toward the hour of numbers worked; unpaid but legally required breaks do not count, and neither do paid sick leave used during the week.
Most workers in Minnesota should follow the Minnesota minimum wage guidelines in determining whether they can receive overtime pay in a given week. The following workers should follow the federal guidelines:
- Public sector employees (working for federal, state, and local governments)
- Employees of public and private schools
- Employees who work in hospitals or nursing homes
- Employees of companies engaged in interstate trade
- Employees of companies whose gross annual revenue exceeds $500,000
Are All Workers Entitled to Overtime Pay?
Most workers who earn $455 per week or less (just over $23,000 per year) are entitled to overtime pay. Minnesota law exempts employers in some professions from having to pay overtime. You are not automatically entitled to overtime pay if you work in one of the following professions:
- Driving a taxi
- Installing farm equipment
- Some sales jobs
- Mechanic jobs
- Sugar beet farming
- Agricultural work, if you get paid on salary
The Minnesota overtime pay law also contains another provision specific to the nursing profession. Employers cannot require nurses to work more than eight hours in a day or 80 hours in a 14-day period. Nurses may choose to work overtime, but employers cannot require it. The purpose of this law is to prevent medical errors by overworked nurses, thereby protecting patients and reducing liability for employers in the healthcare sector.
Salaried employees in white collar professions are also not automatically entitled to overtime pay because it is often difficult to quantify the number of hours they spent on their work. These workers often have detailed employment contracts that often include provisions for extra pay during times when the workload is unusually heavy, and their base rate of pay is usually higher than that of workers eligible for overtime pay. The law specifies that workers in administrative, executive, professional, and sales positions are not automatically eligible for overtime compensation. If you are in a management position, the more of your job you must devote to supervising other workers, the less likely you are to be eligible to receive overtime pay.
Other Types of Pay Disputes
Disputes sometimes arise between employers and workers over the rate of pay, especially in situations in which employees get paid by the hour. The good news is that Minnesota is one of the states where the minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In fact, Minnesota has not one minimum wage but two, and which one your employer must follow depends on the size of the company. For small businesses with annual gross revenues of less than $500,000, the minimum wage is $8.21 per hour. Companies where the gross revenue is $500,000 or more must pay their employees a least $10.08 per hour.
Besides disputes over which minimum wage applies, there are some other common sources of payment disputes in Minnesota:
- Not withholding enough taxes, leaving the employee with an unfairly large tax burden
- Failure to pay the employee’s wages or salary as indicated in the employment contract
- Classifying the worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee, so the employer can avoid responsibility for the worker’s taxes or benefits
- Requiring the employee to continue working after clocking out, effectively working without pay
Getting Your Final Paycheck After You Leave a Job
Another common source of pay disputes is when employers withhold the employee’s final paycheck if the employee leaves the job on bad terms, such as if the employee quit without notice or if the employer abruptly dismissed the employee for misconduct. If your employer fired you, they must give you your last paycheck no more than 24 hours after you request it. If you quit, then they must give you your last paycheck on the next regularly scheduled payday, as long as it is more than five days after you quit. For example, assume that you get paid on the 15th and 30th of every month. If you quit on April 3, you must get your paycheck on the 15th. If you quit on April 12th, though, you must get your paycheck by April 30th.
Contact a Minneapolis Overtime Pay and Wage Dispute Lawyer
As an employee in Minnesota, you are entitled to fair pay, including overtimes wages when applicable. An employment lawyer can help you collect pay that your employer owes you but refuses to pay as promised, whether you are still working there or have already quit. Contact the Minneapolis overtime pay and wage dispute lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP to set up a consultation.