Texas Construction Worker Overtime Pay Lawyers
According to state employment records, there are over 700,000 Texans who currently work in the construction industry. Anyone who’s ever spent any time on a construction site knows that these jobs are difficult and dangerous. People in this line of work deserve to be paid fairly for every hour they spend on the job. All too often, however, construction companies take advantage of their workers, pushing them beyond the 40-hour workweek and into overtime without any extra compensation beyond their normal rate. This unfair business practice is a violation of federal law that leaves hardworking employees overworked and underpaid.
The federal workweek is set at 40 hours for a reason. Extended work hours should mean a higher rate of pay, especially in professions such as construction, which involve very taxing work for a relatively low base rate. At Leichter Law Firm PC, our overtime pay attorneys believe that construction workers should receive every penny they’ve earned, especially the extra pay they’re entitled to for overtime. Whether companies misreport hours, misclassify employees, or simply refuse to pay for their worker’s overtime, we’re prepared to fight them for the compensation their workers deserve. If your employer has denied you overtime pay, Leichter Law Firm PC can help. Call us at (956) 205-0884.
Why You Need an Attorney
If you have worked more than 40 hours in a week and were not compensated at 1.5 times your normal rate for your overtime, your labor rights may have been violated, and you should demand that your employer pay you the amount that you’ve rightfully earned. If you have confronted your employer about withholding your overtime pay and they still refuse to give you the compensation you’re due, it may be time to take legal action. With a successful lawsuit, you may be able to earn what you’re due, and then some. You can sue your employer for damages, including:
- Back pay: If your lawsuit is successful, your employer will be forced to pay you for unpaid overtime hours going back up to 2 years. This pay will be at 1.5 times your normal rate, just as if they had paid you overtime in the first place.
- Liquidated damages: In some cases, you may even be able to win extra compensation on top of the pay you were denied, depending on the amount you were owed to start with.
Recovering these damages will require you to prove that your employer violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act in some way and failed to pay you for your overtime hours. It is important to gather as much evidence as you possibly can, including witness reports from other works, pay stubs, records of your time on the clock, among other pieces of information. Having an experienced overtime pay attorney in your corner can help to maximize your chances of proving a violation on the part of your employer, and therefore to increase the amount you can recover in damages.
Understanding your Right to Overtime Pay
While Texas does not have an overtime pay law of its own, employers statewide are required to follow the rules set up in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under this law, employees who work more than 40 hours in a given week are entitled to 1.5 times their normal rate of pay for those hours. For example, if your normal pay is $10 an hour, and you find yourself working 45 hours one week, your employer must pay you $10 an hour for the first 40 hours and $15 an hour for the last five. There are also specific regulations to determine how much overtime you should be earning if you are paid by the day or shift instead of by the hour. If you are not paid by the hour but suspect you are not receiving a higher rate of pay for your overtime work, an overtime pay lawyer can do the math and help to determine whether you’re being compensated fairly.
There is a rare exception to the 1.5 times pay rule for non-exempt workers that likely does not apply to many construction workers. If you are employed directly by a government agency, that agency can compensate you for overtime by giving you time off equal to 1.5 times the number of hours you worked beyond 40 hours in a given week instead of paying you at a higher rate for those hours.
There is also such a thing as an overtime-exempt position. For example, if you make beyond a certain amount of money—$23,600 a year, in most cases—your employer is not required to pay you at a higher rate for overtime hours. Many salaried employees are also exempt. However, a large number of construction workers likely do not have to worry about any of these exemptions. If you are unsure whether you are exempt from overtime requirements, an experienced overtime pay attorney can help you determine whether or not they apply to you.
How Construction Companies Violate Overtime Pay Laws
Like any employer, construction companies have every incentive to look out for their own bottom line, and this can sometimes lead them to engage in deceptive business practices to keep from having to pay their employees overtime. They might think their employees won’t notice or that, if they do, they will not bother to put up a fight. Dishonest, evasive practices for avoiding overtime pay can take a number of forms, including:
- Paying by the day or shift: Some employers try to get around paying overtime by paying by the day or by the shift and then working employees beyond 40 hours in a given week. Even if you are paid by the day or by the shift, a standard workweek is still considered to be 40 hours, and anything beyond that entitles you to some form of overtime pay.
- Misclassifying workers as independent contractors: There is a reason many construction companies like to hire workers as ‘independent contractors’ – this classification can help them skirt labor laws that would otherwise apply to their employees. Sometimes, however, employers abuse this loophole and improperly classify workers as independent contractors who are actually working as direct employees of the company.
- Ignoring ‘off the clock’ time: Construction jobs can often involve some in-between time that some employers might not count as being on the clock. This is especially true for jobs that involve transportation between different work sites. However, in many cases, this time is still required to be treated as part of the workday and therefore should count toward overtime if it pushes your hours for the week above 40. Please note that ‘off the clock’ time that incurs overtime pay does not include meal breaks.
- Trying to exempt employees based on their title: Some employers believe that just because an employee has a higher-ranking title, that employee is exempt from overtime requirements. Construction workers with titles such as ‘foreman’ or ‘coordinator,’ for example, may get caught up in this practice. However, if you are not salaried and make less than $23,600 a year, the title doesn’t make any difference, and you are still entitled to overtime pay.
- Shoddy record-keeping: It is possible that some employers might be so dishonest or incompetent as to fail to keep accurate records of your time on the job, especially if you aren’t being paid by the hour. Employers who violate the law in this way might incorrectly record the hours you’ve clocked intentionally or unintentionally. Either way, their indiscretion cheats you out of pay you deserve.
This is not an exhaustive list of possible violations—construction companies can find a variety of ways to attempt to evade overtime pay laws. In any case, all of these practices are unethical and illegal, and result in workers earning less than they are due. Some are harder to prove than others, but an experienced overtime pay lawyer can help you piece together the evidence to hold dishonest bookkeepers and others accountable.
When you’re denied the overtime pay you’ve earned for a construction job, it’s not only a financial inconvenience but a betrayal by your employer. Each extra hour at a work site means one hour less spent with your family, or simply taking the time to relax that you’ve earned. Workers who go above and beyond and commit extra hours to the job deserve to be compensated at a higher rate. Under federal law, this rate is set at 1.5 times your normal pay for every hour over 40 hours per week. Unfortunately, however, a lawsuit can sometimes be the only way to get what’s rightfully yours. If you find yourself in this situation, Leichter Law Firm PC is ready to help. Our experienced overtime pay attorneys have the know-how to help you build a strong case and increase your chances of holding construction companies financially accountable for its failure to follow federal labor regulations. If you have been wrongfully denied overtime pay, call the Texas construction worker overtime pay lawyers of Leichter Law Firm PC today at (956) 205-0884.
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