If You Work Overtime, You Must Be Paid More Than Your Normal Wage
Overtime rules for employers in TexasBy Lindsay Kramer | Last updated on June 29, 2022
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In the United States, we have federal overtime laws and state laws that protect hourly employees from exploitation by their employers. At the federal level, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines the legal minimum wage, number of hours an employee may work in a week or a day before he or she is required to receive overtime pay, and the laws for employing workers under the age of 18. Meanwhile, the Texas Payday Law governs all aspects of private sector employment. The standard workweek in the United States is 40 total hours. Although there is no limit to the number of hours workers over the age of 16 may work in a seven day, 168-hour period, once a worker has completed a 40-hour workweek, he or she must be paid at least 1 ½ times their regular rate of pay for every hour worked beyond 40.
Who is an Employee?
It is important to note that these rules apply only to individuals who are considered to be employees of their companies, not independent contractors. Independent contractors are workers who are contracted for specific tasks. They are not subject to certain protections, such as overtime pay and workers’ compensation coverage. Often, but not always, independent contractors and their clients agree on a fixed rate for the services rendered before work begins.
It is illegal for an employer to attempt to circumvent the required protections for employees by hiring them as exemptions or independent contractors. If an employer directs or controls a worker with regard to when and how labor is performed and the results achieved, the worker is an employee. If the worker sets his or her own rates, hours, and handles his or her own taxes and expenses, he or she is an independent contractor.
Overtime and Minimum Wage Requirements
There are no federal law or state requirements to pay workers special overtime wages for working on holidays or weekends. The only circumstance under which an employee must be paid more than his or her regular rate of pay is if he or she works overtime.
In Texas, the state minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage.
Reaching Out to an Attorney
If you’re an employee and feel you’re entitled to unpaid wages, reaching out to a reputable labor law attorney for legal advice is a logical next step.
“Sometimes people just want to call to see what their rights are,” says J. Derek Braziel, an attorney with Lee & Braziel in Dallas who exclusively deals with unpaid wage claims and overtime requirements. The firm accepts those calls and, if they find reason to believe there’s a violation, “we ask them if they’re ready to bring a lawsuit and seek to recover their unpaid overtime rate.”
Braziel doesn’t always file a lawsuit. Sometimes, depending on the size of the employer and circumstances of the case, he’ll send a demand letter for overtime compensation. “In our experience, between 98 and 100 percent of the cases we take settle,” he says. The costs associated with litigation mean most employers would rather seek an out-of-court resolution than a trial.
“Most of the cases that we file are referred to as collective actions,” Braziel explains. “We’re always looking to see if what an employer is doing applies to other employees, is across the company, or even just in one location. We see how widespread it is.”
Under a collective action, damages are calculated on a plaintiff-by-plaintiff basis, “meaning, someone who worked there for three years and did 10 overtime hours a week would be getting a lot more in recovery than a six-month employee working two hours of overtime.”
For more information about this area, see our overview of wage and hour laws.
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