There are several issues you must consider when determining if and how much you may be owed in unpaid overtime under Texas law. First, it must be determined whether you are eligible for overtime pay. Employees are either “exempt” (i.e. not eligible) or “non-exempt” (i.e. eligible) for overtime pay. A prior blog post outlines the common exemptions to overtime pay under federal and Texas law. Assuming you are eligible for unpaid overtime, you should use the following formula.
Step One – Calculate Your Regular Rate of Pay
First, determine your “regular” rate of pay, on an hourly basis. If you are paid a salary, divide your weekly salary by forty to get an hourly rate. You should include commissions and bonuses. The resulting number is your regular hourly rate.
Step Two – Determine the Number of Overtime Hours Worked Per Week
Next, you should determine the number of overtime hours you have worked. Texas and federal law allow an employee to recover overtime wages for up to three years from the date of the lawsuit, so you should assess how many hours you worked above forty for each week in the past three years. Employees calculating their overtime pay rate should also ensure that all their hours worked are present in their paycheck. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the following job duties should be considered as hours worked:
- At-home work
- Some on call time
- Breaks lasting between 5 and 20 minutes
- Time spent in training sessions or safety meetings
- Time spent waiting for work
- Time spent getting ready to work at the worksite (i.e. putting on protective clothing, preparing equipment, etc.)
Step Three – Calculate Your Unpaid Overtime
To calculate your overtime pay rate, multiply your regular hourly rate by 1.5. Every hour worked over 40 in a single workweek should be paid at this rate. Therefore, if you make $10 per hour you should be paid $15 for every hour of overtime. Many employers pay “straight time” (i.e. the normal hourly rate) to employees for each hour worked in excess of forty per week. If this is the case, you would multiply the total number of overtime hours and multiply it by half of your hourly rate to determine how much you are owed in unpaid overtime. Other employers pay their employees “half-time” (i.e. half of the normal hourly rate) for each hour worked in excess of forty per week. If this is the case, you would multiply the total number of overtime hours by half of your regular rate to determine how much you are owed in unpaid overtime.
This post is not intended as a comprehensive guide to calculating unpaid overtime, nor is it intended to convince readers that calculating unpaid overtime is simple. To the contrary, there is a substantial amount of gray area in overtime laws and regulations, and thus there are many factors that can make calculating unpaid overtime complicated. If you have questions regarding your eligibility for unpaid overtime, consult with an employment attorney.
About the Author: I represent individuals in a variety of matters, including employment claims for lost wages. While my office is located in Fort Worth, I am admitted to practice in every state and federal court in Texas, and I am able handle unpaid overtime cases in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Denton, Houston, Waco, Austin, San Antonio, and across Texas. If you believe you may be owed unpaid overtime, call me at 817.908.9861 or fill out my contact form for a free evaluation.