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Is It Illegal for an Employer to
Force You to Work off the Clock?

Off-the-clock work refers to work employees perform outside of their working hours and for which they are not compensated. In most U.S. states, this type of labor does not contribute to overtime pay.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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Is it Illegal for an Employer to Force You to Work Off the Clock?

Federal labor laws mandate that an employer cannot force you to work off the clock. All time you spend working must be paid in full. This is true even if your employer didn’t authorize the extra time. Any time an employee spends on work, when the employer knew or should have known about it, must be compensated.

What is an Example of Working Off the Clock?

If an hourly paid employee's official work hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but he or she comes in at 8 a.m. and leaves at 6 p.m. to finish a project and isn't paid for the additional work hours, this would be considered working off the clock.

Do I Have a Work Off the Clock Claim Even if I'm a Salaried Employee?

In most states, every non-exempt employee is entitled to overtime compensation when they work over 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. And while many salaried employees are exempt employees under the white-collar exemption, many are not.

So if you are working more hours without additional pay, you could have an off-the-clock claim against your employer, even if you work for a salary.

Related Article: How Many Breaks in a 5 Hour Shift?

What is a White-Collar Exemption?

Administrative, executive, professional, and computer-related professional employees, as well as outside sales employees, are all considered exempt "white collar" employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This means they are not covered by the minimum wage, overtime, and certain recordkeeping requirements of the law.

What is the Fair Labor Standards Act?

The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, is legislation intended to protect workers in most states. FLSA states that employees must be paid overtime for over 40 hours a week. Due to the integration of the FLSA in most state labor laws, employee rights are protected in that they must be paid the minimum wage, as well as overtime, and the same compensatory or insurance benefits as other employees doing the same job.

Related Article: How Does the FLSA Define Wages?

Recovering Back Wages for Off-the-Clock Work

Complaints filed with the Department of Labor (DOL) may recover up to 3 years of back wages for unpaid overtime, including liquidated damages equal to what a former employee is owed. DOL awards damages to former employees as a rule of thumb.

However, employers who have proven that they acted in good faith may supersede such a claim. FLSA approval of a work-off-the-clock claim allows employees to recover attorney's fees if the complaint is found to be valid.

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If you or a loved one was affected, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.