Tuesday, September 18th 2018

Layoffs and Your New Job Title(s): Overworked and Underpaid

As you have probably heard, businesses and law firms are slashing costs at every level.  Unfortunately, this does not mean cost-cutting starts or ends with the elimination of frills like entertainment expense accounts and bonuses, either.  Your friends are talking about lay-offs, you’re waiting longer for services because of understaffing, and now an “I” exists in your support staff “team” because only one support personnel is left in your department.  That’s right, you’ve probably noticed less chatter at the water cooler, and one or more once-occupied offices are barren and cold spaces that people only acknowledge in soft whispers after 5pm.   It seems by necessity everyone left has acquired several additional job duties; as a result, you and your remaining colleagues are assigned more work.

In fact, you’re overworked.  You may grimace and bear it for the first couple of weeks because you’re glad it wasn’t you that “got let go.”  But, as time goes on, and as you find yourself consistently working in excess of forty (40) hours per week—late or through lunch, and occasionally on the weekend in order to complete ever more demanding tasks required by your recently acquired job duties—you start to wonder when it will end.  You get the feeling that you’re underpaid, but you’re afraid to discuss the situation with your supervisor because now does not really seem like the time to complain.  Still, something about moonlighting your daytime responsibilities seems unfair.

Let me be the first to say, maybe you deserve additional pay.  No, not because you’re educated and have a sense of entitlement stemming from having been slightly coddled much of your life, but because it’s what the law requires.  The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was drafted to protect against these types of abuses by employers and says certain employees must be paid time and a half for any time worked over forty (40) in a workweek—potentially everything from answering an evening email from your boss to heading to the post office to drop off those TPS reports after work, and every work-related action in between.  Every minute over forty (40) hours spent working in a week is potentially compensable at time and a half.  Some employees are “exempt” and thus not entitled to this overtime pay, but many more are unfairly mischaracterized by their employers as exempt as a way for the employer only to save a ton of cash by avoiding paying overtime.

The most well-known and broadest categories of exempt employees are “Executive, Administrative, or Professional personnel” (note:  that’s you, attorneys.  Sorry.).  You may think you automatically fall into one of these seemingly broad categories based on your job title alone—but the categories are not well-defined, and if you have any question about whether you are entitled to back-wage overtime pay (and other money), you should consult an attorney.  The consultation is likely free, and, potentially, so is the entire representation.

It may be worth looking in to. In your spare time.

Posted by Adam on May 3, 2011 at 1:09pm.

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