The 40-hour week has been a standard of American working conditions for decades. In reality, just about everyone has gone over that mark at one point or another, putting in 45, 50, maybe even 60 or more hours each week.
There are laws in place to protect many workers from being exploited, requiring employers to provide extra compensation for overtime work. Employers aren’t always good at following these laws, however, and may even come up with excuses to avoid the responsibility.
In an effort to clear things up, here is a brief rundown of the state’s overtime pay laws.
What does New York law require?
Generally speaking, most employees in New York are eligible for overtime pay. Under the law, an employer has to pay a worker 1 1/2 times that employee’s standard rate for all hours above 40 worked in a single week.
It sounds straightforward, but there are wrinkles. There are a number of workers the law labels as exempt – meaning their employer does not have to pay them time-and-a-half for overtime.
Most commonly this applies to executive and administrative employees who are salaried and earn a certain amount (for large employers in New York City, that threshold is $1,125.00 per week). Professional employees such as teachers or architects – jobs that require advanced training and generally aren’t considered manual or physical labor – are also exempt.
Other exempt workers include:
- Outside salespeople
- Farm workers
- Taxi drivers
- Camp counselors
- Part-time baby sitters
- Government workers
- Certain people that work for religious institutions or charities
- Members of religious orders
Actually determining whether someone is exempt can be complex. Just because you work in one of these fields, or were told you are not eligible, doesn’t mean that is actually the case. For example, employers may use specific job titles to make it appear as though a worker is exempt, when in reality that worker should be paid overtime.
I think I should have been paid overtime – what do I do next?
If you worked overtime and your employer did not pay for it, but you believe they should have, the first step is to make sure you’re not an exempt worker. That’s something an employment attorney can generally help with.
If an employer wrongly did not pay overtime, you may be able to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for back pay, damages caused by the incorrect pay and attorney’s fees. The employer could also face a fine for their violation.