If you’re classified as an employee who is non-exempt from overtime laws, then you should be paid for every duty that you perform for your employer. Sounds simple, right? It certainly should be, but employers try to get free work from their employees all the time, primarily so that they don’t have to pay overtime. While it may seem like minor work at the moment, over time this work can cheat you out of a significant amount of money.
How employers try to get you to work off the clock
Sometimes employers blatantly ask if you’ll do something off the clock, but this usually isn’t the case. Instead, employers often try to cloak their actions, such as by simply giving you more duties than you’re able to complete while on the clock or by preventing you from clocking in until your shift officially begins.
So, if you’re employer requires you to complete pre-shift work, post-shift work, administrative work after hours, or work over a meal break, then you might want to consider taking legal action to recover that to which you’re entitled.
How do you gather evidence of these wage and hour law violations?
Once you’re convinced that you need to take legal action, you’ll have to start thinking about the evidence that you can gather to support your position. Here’s what you’ll need to be sure to address:
- You performed work that was not compensated: Remember, you’ll need to be able to prove this element. To do so, keep track of the work that you perform while off the clock. Keeping a journal may be helpful, where you identify the dates and times that you conducted that work and exactly what you did during that time.
- Your employer either asked you to conduct work off the clock or should have known that you would have been compelled to perform off the clockwork: You aren’t going to be able to impose liability on your employer if you can’t show that it knew that you weren’t being paid for the work that you were performing. So, make sure that the work was sanctioned by your employer in some fashion. Ensure that you retain any communications with your employer where you’re asked to complete work while off the clock and talk to witnesses who may be able to back up your claim here.
- Your employer failed to prevent you from working off the clock or acting to ensure that you were compensated for the work: This element of your case speaks to the employer’s intent. So, email correspondence and witness testimony may be helpful here, too. But you might also want to subpoena your employer’s records to see if there are internal records that may be indicative of a widespread problem. This, of course, will strengthen your case and give you a better chance of winning your case.
Fight for the compensation that you deserve
You deserve to be compensated for the work that you perform. Don’t let an employer cheat you out of your precious time. To protect your interests, though, you’ll have to be proactive in standing up for your rights. This means thoroughly assessing the situation at hand and developing the legal arguments that you need to maximize your chances of imposing liability on your employer.
That might sound like an overwhelming process, but it doesn’t have to be. Especially if you work closely with an employment law attorney who is dedicated to this area of the law.