Overtime, Breaks & Wage and Hour Violations

3/21/2019

Eight-hour work days, lunch breaks, and overtime compensation all stem from wage and hour provisions.

fanned out $100 billsLimitations on how long an employee can be required to work and how much they must be paid for exceeding those limits serves to protect workers and the public. The basis of these limitations can be found in federal law such as the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) and some states have gone beyond federal law. 

FLSA

The FLSA has four main components; minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping practices, and child labor provisions. This section focuses only on overtime pay and state statutes related to meal and rest breaks.

According to the FSLA, employees are to be paid at a rate of no less than one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a given workweek. This includes hourly, salary, and piecework wages. The Department of Labor (DOL) offers guidance on how each type of wage should be calculated for the overtime rate.

It should also be noted that large groups of employees are exempt from both federal and state wage and hour laws. Generally, these exempted groups of workers include administrative, professional, and executive employees; workers covered by collective bargaining agreements; public sector employees; independent contractors; farmworkers; seasonal amusement or recreational workers; and more.

Violations and Penalties

The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the DOL is responsible for enforcing FLSA provisions through investigation of employers. If violations are found, the WHD recommends changes to bring the employer into compliance. There are also legal remedies for violations that allows the DOL or an employee to recover back wages for overtime or minimum wage violations plus an equal amount of liquidated damages. The statute of limitations is two years or three years for willful violations.

State Wage and Hour Laws

State laws regarding wage and hour violations range widely from no state overtime law in Iowa to triple back-pay penalties for employers in Maryland. There are a few key components to state wage and hour laws

  • Minimum wage
  • Overtime compensation
  • Meal and rest breaks
  • Damages for violations

Specific combinations of these criteria impact the strength of each state’s wage and hour laws. See the table below for details on each state’s combination of the above components.

Overtime

State overtime laws generally follow the FLSA with some exceptions. There are 19 states where no state law regarding overtime exists. In these states federal law applies effect. Of the states that do have an overtime statute, 26 have the same requirement as the FLSA (1.5 rate of pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a work week). Four states—Alaska, California, Colorado, and Nevada—allow for overtime to be calculated by hours worked in a day rather than or in addition to the hours worked in a week. Two states—Kansas and Minnesota—have a higher threshold for hours worked in a week before overtime pay rates are applied.

Breaks

The only break requirement outlined in the FLSA is the result of the Affordable Care Act. The amended rule requires reasonable breaks for nursing mothers to express milk. The breaks are not required to be compensated. State laws regarding meal and rest breaks also vary significantly. Twenty-nine states have no meal or rest break statutes for worker adult workers. Of the states that do have requirements 10 require both meal and rest breaks, nine require only meal breaks, and three require breaks but do not specify if they should be considered meal or rest breaks. The chart below provides greater details but generally, rest breaks are considered paid time if they are less than 20 minutes. Meal breaks are generally unpaid if they are longer than 20 minutes and employees are completely relieved of duty during that time.

Violations and Penalties

Wage and hour violations take many forms, from paying sub-minimum wages to failing to pay employees a final paycheck when they leave employment. The FSLA sets some barriers against wage theft, but enforcement can be cumbersome and time consuming. Meanwhile, it is estimated that wage and hour violations cost workers billions annually and have a broader economic impact in terms of lost revenues for federal, state, and local government. Wage and hour violations can happen to almost any employee in any industry but tend to happen more to low-wage workers, women, young people, and immigrants. State laws for penalties and statutes of limitations vary widely from only awarding the amount of back wages in Mississippi to awarding triple the amount of back wages in Arizona, Idaho, and Massachusetts. Statues of limitations range from one year in Illinois, and Utah to six years in New York. The chart below provides greater detail.

*Please note if the state does not have its own law the FLSA applies and the field is left blank.

State

Overtime

Breaks

Penalties for Wage Violation

Statute of Limitations

Legislation

State Labor Agency

Alabama

         

Alabama Dept of Labor

Alaska

1.5 rate for more than 8 hours per day or
40 hours per week

 

Double amount of unpaid wages

2 years for minimum wage and overtime violations; 3 years for straight time and benefits violations

Alaska Wage and Hour
Act

Dept of Labor and Workforce Development

Arizona

   

Triple

1 year

Arizona Wage Law

The Industrial Commission of Arizona

Arkansas

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

Nursing (unpaid)

Double amount of unpaid wages

3 years

Arkansas Code Title 11

Arkansas Department of Labor

California

1.5 rate for more than 8 but less than 12 hours per day or 40 hours per week,
Double rate for more than 12 hours per day or more than 8 hours on the seventh consecutive work day.

Unpaid 30 minute meal break per 5 hours of work. Paid 10 minute rest break per 4 hours of work

Double amount of unpaid wages
Triple if not paid within 10 days
of ruling

3 years

California Labor Code

Industrial Welfare Commission
Division of Labor Standards Enforcement

Colorado


1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week
or 12 hours per day

Unpaid 30 minute meal break per 5
hours of work. Paid 10 minute rest
break per 4 hours of work

 

2 years

Colorado Wage Claim
Act

Colorado Department of Labor and
Employment

Connecticut

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

Unpaid 30 minute meal break for
shifts of 7.5 hours or more

Double amount of unpaid wages

2 years

Connecticut General
Statutes, Title 31, Ch. 558

Connecticut Department of Labor,
Wage and Workplace Standards
Division

Delaware

 

Unpaid 30 minute meal break for
shifts of 7.5 hours or more (must be after first two hours a before last two hours of shift)

Double

10.5 months

Wage Payment and
Collection Act

Delaware Department of Labor

DC

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week    

3 years

Wage Payment Act

District of Columbia Council, Wage and
Hour Office

Florida

   

Double amount of unpaid wages

2 years

Labor Pool Act

 

Georgia

   

Double amount of unpaid wages

3 years

 

Georgia Department of Labor

Hawaii

At least 1.5 rate for more than 40 hours
per week

 

Unpaid wage plus 6 percent interest

6 years

Wage and Hour Law;
Payment of Wages and
other Compensation Law

Hawaii Department of Labor and
Industrial Relations

Idaho

   

Triple amount of unpaid wages

2 years

Idaho Wage Act

Department of Labor

Illinois

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week


Unpaid 20-minute meal break for shifts 7.5 hours or longer no later than 5 hours into the shift

Unpaid wages plus 2 percent for each
month of underpayment

1 year

Wage Payment and
Collection Act, Minimum Wage Law, One Day Rest in Seven Act

Illinois Department of Labor

Indiana

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

 

Double amount of unpaid wages

3 years

Indiant Wage Payment
Statute, Wage Claim
Statute

Indiana Department of Labor

Iowa

   

5 percent of unpaid wages each day capped at total amount of unpaid wages

2 years

Iowa Wage Payment
Collection Act

Division of Labor Services

Kansas

1.5 rate for more than 46 hours per week

 

1 percent of unpaid wages per day
(excluding Sundays and holidays)
up to the total of unpaid wages

3 years

Kansas Wage Payment Act
and Kansas Minimum Wage and Maximum Hours Law

Kansas Department of Labor

Kentucky

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

Paid 10-minute rest break for
every 4 hours worked. Unpaid
'reasonable meal period' no sooner than 3rd hour or later than 5th hour worked

Double amount of unpaid wages

6 months

Kentucky Revised Statutes
Chapters 336, 337, 339 & 343

Kentucky Labor Cabinet

Louisiana

   

90 days of wages or full wages
from the time of the employee's demand for payment, whichever is lesser

3 years

Wage Payment Act

Louisiana Workforce Commission

Maine

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

30-minute rest or meal break
(paid or unpaid) when working 6 or more consecutive hours

Double amount of unpaid wages

6 years

Maine Employment Practices Law

Maine Bureau of Labor Standards

Maryland

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

15-minute break for retail
workers working more than 4 consecutive hours, 30-minute break for working 6 consecutive hours, additional 15-minute break for 8 consecutive hours

Triple amount of unpaid wages

3 years

Maryland Wage and Hour Law and Wage Payment and Collection Law

Department of Labor and Industry

Massachusetts

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

30-minute unpaid meal break within the first 6 hours of work

Triple amount of unpaid wages

3 years

Massachusetts General Laws Chapters
151 and 149

Office of the Attorney General and the
Division of Occupational Safety

Michigan

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

 

Difference between wages paid and wage owed and equal amount liquidated damages

3 years

Payment of Wages and Fringe Benefits Act and the Workforce Opportunity Act

Wage and Hour Division

Minnesota

1.5 rate for more than 48 hours per week

Sufficient time to use the restroom within 4 consecutive hours of work. Sufficient time to eat a meal for eight of more consecutive hours of work

Double amount of unpaid wages

2 years

Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act and Minnesota Payment of Wages Act

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry's Division of Labor Standards and Apprenticeship

Mississippi

   

Only the amount of lost wages

   

Mississippi Employment Security Commission

Missouri

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

 

Double amount of unpaid wages

2 years

Missouri Code Regulation Annotated, Title 8, Division 30, Chapter 4

Division of Labor Standards

Montana

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

 

110 percent of wages due and unpaid

2 years
(must be filed within 180 days)

Montana Minimum Wage and Overtime Compensation Act

Montana Labor Standards Bureau, Wage and Hour Unit

Nebraska

 

Employees in assembly plants,
workshops, or mechanical establishments must be given a 30-minute break for each 8-hour shift

Amount equal to unpaid wages, double if the employer committed a willful violation

2 years, 3 for willful violation by employer

Wage Payment and Collection Act and the Wage and Hour Act

Commissioner of Labor

Nevada

1.5 rate for more than 8 hours per day or
40 hours per week (workers earning one and one-half times minimum wage are exempt from daily OT rule)

 

 

2 years

Nevada Revised Statute Chapter 608

Office of the Labor Commissioner of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry

New Hampshire

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

30-minute meal break for shifts more
than 5 consecutive hours

 

3 years

New Hampshire Revised Statute Title XXIII, chapter 275-279

New Hampshire Department of Labor

New Jersey

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

   

2 years

New Jersey Wage Payment Law, New Jersey Wage and Hour Law, New Jersey Wage Collection Law

New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce

New Mexico

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week
for employees covered by the Minimum Wage Act

 

Double amount of unpaid wages

3 years

New Mexico Codified Statutes Ch. 50, Art.1

Workforce Solutions Department

New York

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

Factory workers must receive one hour
meal breaks, others 30-minute breaks for shifts more than 6 hours between 11am and 2pm

Full amount of wages owed

6 years

New York Labor Law

Department of Labor Standards

North Carolina

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

 

Double amount of unpaid wages

2 years

North Carolina Wage and Hour Act

Labor Standards Bureau

North Dakota

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

30-minute unpaid meal break for shifts exceeding 5 hours

Interest on unpaid wages, double if
employer has been liable for two previous wage claims, triple if three or more in one year

2 years

North Dakota Century Code 34

Department of Labor and Human Rights

Ohio

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

   

2 years

Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 4111

Ohio Department of Commerce, Wage and Hour Bureau

Oklahoma

   

Double amount of unpaid wages

 

Oklahoma Protection of Labor Act

Commissioner of Labor

Oregon

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

30-minute unpaid meal break for work
periods exceeding 6 hours, 10-minute rest break (paid) for each four-hour segment of work

 

2 years

Oregon Revised Statute 651

Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, Wage and Hour Division

Pennsylvania

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

 

25 percent of the total wages due or $500
whichever is greater

3 years

Pennsylvania Code Title 34, Part XII

Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Labor Law Compliance

Rhode Island

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

Unpaid 30-minute meal break for 8 hours shifts, 20-minute unpaid meal break for 6-hour shift

Double the amount of unpaid wages

3 years

Rhode Island Payment of Wages Act

Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training

South Carolina

   

Triple amount of unpaid wages

3 years

South Carolina Code Chapters 10 and 13

South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation

South Dakota

   

Double amount of unpaid wages if employer has been 'oppressive, fraudulent, or malicious'

2 years

South Dakota Codified Laws Title 60, Ch. 5

South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation

Tennessee

 

30-minute unpaid rest or meal break if scheduled to work six consecutive hours (nongovernmental employers with five or more employees)

 

1 year

Tennessee Wage Protection Act

Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Texas

     

2 years

Texas Pay Day Act

Texas Workforce Commission

Utah

   

5 percent of unpaid wages daily until paid not to exceed 20 days

1 year

Utah's Payment of Wages Act

Utah Labor Commission, Division of Antidiscrimination

Vermont

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

Reasonable opportunities to eat and use
the restroom, unpaid if less than 30 minutes

Double the amount of unpaid wages

2 years

Vermont Statute Title 21, Chapter 5

Vermont Department of Labor

Virginia

   

Unpaid wages plus 8 percent per year from the date wage should have been paid

3 years

Vermont Statute Title 21, Chapter 5

Virginia Department of Labor and Industry

Washington

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

30-minute unpaid meal break for working more than 5 consecutive hours. 10-minute rest period for each four hours of working time, paid.

Double the amount of unpaid wages

3 years

Washington Minimum Wage Act, Industrial Welfare Act, Standards of Labor regulations

Washington Department of Labor, Industries Department

West Virginia

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

20-minute meal break for employees
working at least a 6-hour shift

Double the amount of unpaid wages

2 years

West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act, West Virginia Minimum Wage and Maximum Hours Act

West Virginia Division of Labor

Wisconsin

1.5 rate for more than 40 hours per week

Recommended: 30-minute meal break for shifts of 6 or more hours

50 percent of amount of lost wages

2 years

Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 104

Department of Workforce Development

Wyoming

     

2 years

Wyoming Statues Title 27

Wyoming Department of Workforce Services