Employer refusing to pay for overtime wages earned

My employer has bounced back and forth on whether she's going to pay me overtime on a project she made me work on at home. I was hired on an hourly basis, then changed to salaried exempt, and that's when I was told to complete this project and others. I told her I didn't have time to at work, and she said to take it home. Long story short, she has now decided to change my status to salaried non-exempt, but says she will not pay me for the overtime because there is no record of it on my timesheets at work, even though she knows I spent an ungodly amount of time at home working. I had brought this up with her superiors, and they told her to do something about it because I could sue... she was going to give me comp time, then changed her mind. She's very sneaky; I think she's waiting for the statute of limitations to run out, and hopes that I don't do anything before then. I have enough info to prove my case, but my question is: Should I first get an attorney, or should I first contact the DOL?
Thank you in advance to anyone who can answer this for me. I'm losing too much sleep, and just want it over and done with once and for all.

1 answer  |  asked Jan 17, 2005 07:57 AM [EST]  |  applies to Pennsylvania

Answers (1)

Christopher Ezold
You should consult an attorney.

Before I respond to your inquiry, I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion below is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania or Federal law apply, unless otherwise specified.

That being said, you do not appear to have a question on the law, but one about the practical aspects of how to proceed. First, although your employer classified you as "exempt" for a time, their classification does not control. The fact that they are now classifying you as "non-exempt" tells me that you were likely "non-exempt" the entire time you have been employed, and are owed overtime pay for that period. If your claim for overtime pay succeeds, you will be owed double the unpaid overtime wages plus your attorneys' fees. While the DOL will process your complaint within a few months, the focus of state agencies is on enforcing the law and not on making sure you are fully compensated for your work. They do not always see the full spectrum of your claims and are more willing to settle for less than an attorney would be. Therefore, if you believe that you would receive at least a few thousand dollars from an overtime claim, you may want to consult an attorney prior to filing.

Furthermore, you should also consider the political results of suing your employer; you may subsequently encounter a hostile work atmosphere or other problems. An attorney experienced in this area of the law will be able to advise you on whether it would be worth the 'hassle' to proceed, and how to minimize the political fallout.

Finally, you say that you are losing sleep and have a sneaky boss; this tells me that more than a little unpaid overtime is at stake here. Again, an attorney experienced in this area of the law would be able to determine whether any other legal issues are implicated by your current situation and give you advice accordingly.

If you only want to resolve a few weeks of overtime, or if the emotional burden of a claim is more than you want to deal with, you should go directly to the DOL. However, if you want advice on the entire spectrum of your claims, and if you want advice on how to handle your claims legally, practically and policically within your company, you should consult an attorney.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact me at the below address(es) or number.

/Christopher E. Ezold/
Nancy O'Mara Ezold, P.C.
401 City Line Avenue,
Suite 904
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
(610) 660-5585

posted by Christopher Ezold  |  Jan 18, 2005 08:04 AM [EST]

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