Can an Employer Make You Work Overtime Without Notice?
Is It Legal for My Boss to Force Me to Work Overtime Without Notice?
Yes, federal and state laws allow employers to require unscheduled and mandatory overtime. As inconvenient and unwelcome as hearing, “I need you to work late today,” or “You’ll have to come in this weekend,” may be, such demands are perfectly legal.
The same laws that authorize unscheduled overtime, however, require employers to pay at least time-and-one-half to every employee who is eligible to earn overtime pay. This means you must be paid 1.5 times your regular hourly rate for all hours worked over 40 hours in one workweek. Managers and supervisors only violate the rights of hourly workers when they force people to put in unpaid overtime.
Unfortunately, our Cleveland employment attorneys often hear from people who are required to work extended, double, and weekend shifts without warning and without the legally mandated overtime pay. Protecting yourself and securing unpaid wages are possible when you understand your rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal law, and the equivalent state statutes.
Individual workers and groups of employees can file claims for unpaid overtime, called class or collective action lawsuits.
Know Who Qualifies to Earn Overtime Pay
Generally, employees who get paid by the hour and who are not responsible for managing or supervising coworkers qualify to earn overtime pay after working more than 40 hours during a 7-day workweek. Wait staff, bartenders and other people who regularly accept tips also typically qualify to earn overtime pay. There are a few other exemptions to the FLSA such as administrative employees, professional employees and sales and computer professionals.
Too many employers attempt to withhold overtime by doing things such as:
- Designating employees as independent contractors who have no FLSA protections,
- Giving non-managerial employees bogus titles because salaried managers are exempt from earning overtime, and
- Telling tipped employees they are not eligible for overtime.
In truth, the full set of rules and regulations for qualifying to earn overtime are complicated. Speaking with an experienced and knowledgeable employment lawyer can help you understand whether you are entitled to overtime pay and could stop your employer from using the complexity of the system to deny you overtime pay for all of the hours you work.
Do Not Let Managers Make You Work Off the Clock
Other tricks employers use to deny and withhold overtime include:
- Offering compensatory time off in lieu of paying time-and-a-half,
- Requiring prep work before clocking in,
- Requiring closing work after clocking out, and
- Treating certain shifts and tasks as voluntary instead of required.
These practices can be particularly pernicious and harmful to employees. The FLSA and related state laws permit each of these things in limited circumstances, but all are ripe for abuse by managers and supervisors.
For instance, workers are allowed to accept comp time. A violation of the FLSA occurs when any of the following occurs:
- The employer fails to keep proper records of the overtime hours worked,
- The employee is never granted time off or only granted a small percent of their comp time, or
- The employer offers only comp time and never approves overtime pay.
Similarly, decades of FLSA case law confirm that employers can require employees to put on safety gear before starting a shift. Dressing time, often called “donning and doffing,” is rarely what the law calls compensable. Where an FLSA violation might occur when an employer requires a shift leader to inspect all their coworkers’ safety gear before allowing the shift leader to clock in.
A very common unpaid overtime complaint we hear from our Cleveland employment law clients is that managers tell them to clock out so they do not have more than 40 hours on their weekly timesheet. Such requests can come at any point during a shift, which might leave an employing working almost an entire extra day without earning the overtime they are legally entitled to receive. What Can I Do If I’m Not Getting Overtime Wages?
As a final example of how managers and supervisors can take advantage of the FLSA, employers are permitted to encourage workers to perform community service for organizations the company supports. A manager cannot, however, make volunteering a condition of keeping one’s job. An employee who is required to work at a company-sponsored event must be paid for that time, including any overtime that is accrued.
Now, let’s take a moment to look at some frequently asked questions that relate to mandatory overtime laws and if you can be forced to work overtime.
How Will I Know if a Job Requires Overtime Hours?
Any job can require overtime hours. If you are protected by the FLSA and do not fall within an exemption to the FLSA, you are entitled to be paid time and one-half for all hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek.
Can You Get Fired for Refusing to Work Overtime?
Yes, you can be fired for refusing to work overtime. Your employer is allowed to fire you for refusal to work mandatory overtime.
Can an Employer Force You to Work on Your Day Off?
Your employer can require that you work on your day off. You can refuse to work on your day off, but your employer will have the right to fire you if they wish to.
Along with federal and state mandatory overtime laws, it’s important to note that Ohio is an at-will employment state. This means that either an employee or an employer can break off the employment relationship for any reason – so long as those reasons are legal.
Being required to work on your day off can seem extremely unfair, but it is legal.
How Much Notice is Required for Mandatory Overtime?
Currently, there are no laws that require your employer to provide you with a specific amount of notice for any overtime they request.
There are certain industries that have hourly restrictions on the number of continuous hours that an employee can work. For example, the trucking industry involves the operation of commercial vehicles. Employers in this industry will need to comply with relevant restrictions and ensure that any additional hours added to an employee’s schedule do not result in an employee working more than is permissible pursuant to state or federal law.
Unpaid wages and withheld overtime are more than legal violations. They exploit and financially harm workers that rely on that money to make a living and care for their families. Employers who engage in unfair and illegal pay practices must be held accountable. The Friedmann Firm strives to hold employers that violate the FLSA and Ohio’s wage and hour laws accountable.
You can connect with us online or over the phone at 614-610-9755 to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.
Rachel was absolutely amazing. As an attorney she really took the time to really listen to my concerns. She was honest and kept me informed every step of the way. The outcome was favorable on my behalf and I appreciate her efforts to achieve a good outcome. I would highly recommend her and the Friedmann firm to represent me if ever needed in future.
Working with Rachel Sabo from Friedmann Firm was absolutely amazing! She upholds integrity, honesty and without a doubt fights for what is right! Rachel was extremely transparent and real! Please don’t let wrong be right, Rachel will strive to advocate and put her whole heart in obtaining resolve in your situation! What an absolute blessing, she won my case in less than 1 week💪
My experience with the Friedmann Firm is an absolute 5 stars. From my very first call with Karen, to all of my communication with Rachel, everything exceeded all of my expectations. Rachel and Karen were so caring and understanding in a very sensitive situation. They responded immediately to any questions or concerns I had. I would HIGHLY recommend the Friedmann Firm. They are caring, professional, understanding, and I would trust them with any issue I have in the future.
Rachel and the Friedmann Firm were fantastic to work with. The thought of needing an employment lawyer was scary for me, it was confusing and complex. But Rachel listened, asked questions and took time to really understand me and my priorities. I felt calm, supported and excited for the first time in weeks after talking to her!! We worked together to review everything, set expectations and meet my priorities! Thanks Rachel and team for all your work!!!
Rachel Friedmann of the Friedman Firm was my attorney for a very recent legal matter. I would highly recommend Rachel based on her legal knowledge, her honest appraisal of the matter and expected outcomes, her open communication and timely responses to my questions and the matter itself, and her steadfastness in dealing with the opposing counsel until a final agreement was reached.
Rachel and her staff went over and above the call of duty to help me achieve fiscal resolution to my legal issue. She wasn’t always available to talk but was always responsive via text and email when in court out of the office and even on vacation. I feel she earned her percentage cut.
Couldn’t be happier with the representation I received from Jamie Bailey on my civil litigation case. She worked tirelessly to resolve the case and in the end negotiated a fair settlement on my behalf. I would highly recommend her to anyone! Thanks for everything Friedman law firm.
Friedman Firm was a great help in a difficult time in my life. They went above and beyond to get me back on track. Rachel was so good to work with and is extremely knowledgeable about the law and employment rights. Can't thank them enough for all there hard work. Highly recommend them to anyone.
The Friedmann Firm (specifically Pete Friedmann) represented me through what seemed like a never ending employment discrimination suit. The suit was filed just before Covid shut everything down in 2020. Add to that a former employer who refused to admit fault. In spite of all of that, Pete stood resolute in his representation of me and working for the best outcome for me. We ended up settling prior to trial and I was more than satisfied with the results. Pete was always available to answer questions and reassure me throughout this process. I highly recommend The Friedmann Firm!
Pete Friedmann and his firm are fantastic. He represented me for more than a year going through a suit with a previous employer. He walked me through every step of the process and was always quick to respond to any questions I had. My settlement came in and we parted ways with both sides being pleased with the outcome. I highly recommend the Friedmann firm and wouldn’t hesitate to use them again in the future if the need arose. Thank you, Pete!
Rachel and the Friedmann Firm have been amazing to work with. Rachel was very helpful, listened to our concerns and took our case. She communicated well throughout and really worked for us. We were very well represented!
I loved working with The Friedmann Firm. Rachel and Jamie are exceptional lawyers and were diligent in reviewing my case and letting me know of my options. Jamie was extremely thorough and handled even the smallest details of my case with ease. The entire process was seamless and they were always quick to respond to emails and calls. I would definitely recommend working with The Friedmann Firm.
I would recommend Rachel Sabo Friedmann and the Friedmann firm for severance negotiations. Rachel was always available and responsive and made an effort to ensure I was updated on every step of the process. Her diligent efforts produced a prompt resolution and we are very happy with the results!