View Full Version : are employers required to offer overtime to all employees?

07-16-2010, 10:42 AM
Are employers required to offer overtime to all employees and not to just a select few? My summer job is painting the dorms at the University of Memphis, hired and paid by their Residence Life office, and within our crew only some people are being offered overtime. Can they do this? Isn't there some equal opportunity act requiring my employer to offer the overtime to everyone, when we are doing the exact same work with the same amount of experience? And also, for the crew who have been here for several years, shouldn't they be making more than the minimum wage everyone else is making?

Any info would be helpful! :)

07-16-2010, 10:56 AM
Anyone who works more than 40 hours in a week (or whatever other definitions a state might have) must be paid overtime unless their job qualifies them as exempt (which would generally be a managerial or professional person on a salary).

A company is able to set a policy regarding whether you are permitted to work overtime. Many companies require supervisor's approval before you work more than 40 hours in a week. This is totally acceptable, as is something like permitting overtime only for employees in certain positions or with seniority

In order to have a case under equal opportunity laws, the policy would have to prohibit overtime based on protected classes under the law - things like race, religion, age and gender.

There is no requirement to give people raises based on experience. It is a common company policy to do so, but the law only mandates that minimum wage be paid.

07-16-2010, 10:56 AM
I'm pretty sure employers can offer whatever hours they want as long as they pay you minimum wage for regular hours and time-and-a-half for anything beyond 40 hours/week. As long as they aren't discriminating against some protected class (i.e. only men are asked to work overtime) they can play favorites all they want.

ETA: And it really is in the employer's best interest to pay overtime only to the most productive employees, so you'd expect them to be choosy in who they offer extra hours to. There's also nothing stopping the manager from giving overtime to his buddies (or everyone else so he and his buddies can go out drinking).

07-16-2010, 10:56 AM
Can they do this? Isn't there some equal opportunity act requiring my employer to offer the overtime to everyone

IANAL but generally speaking uness such opportunities are being given out in a way that discriminate against a protected class, no its not illegal. If they were refusing to let (selected ethnicity/religion/gender) work overtime, or always forcing them to while those who did not fit that class went home, then there can be a legal issue.

Wow triple post..

07-16-2010, 10:57 AM
Tennessee is an at-will state. Additionally,
Tennessee has no wage laws concerning overtime, minimum wage, or the regulation of salaried employees. (http://www.state.tn.us/labor-wfd/faq_laws.html#paydeductions)
So they fall back to the federal guidelines (http://www.dol.gov/whd/index.htm), which as far as I know don't make raises mandatory and don't mandate equal amounts of overtime for everyone.

I'm not a lawyer, I just know how to Google (so take it with a grain of salt until someone else who knows what they're talking about comes along).

Tastes of Chocolate
07-16-2010, 02:08 PM
And also, for the crew who have been here for several years, shouldn't they be making more than the minimum wage everyone else is making?

Once things like minimum wage are covered, there isn't an "shoulds" in wages. Increased wages are something an employer does to keep employees that they want to keep. If minimum wage is enough to attract enough employees, why would the employer want to pay more? Increased pay comes with a shortage of employees, either because of a general shortage or because speciallized skills are needed.

Summer jobs provided through a college? That's pretty much the definition of a minimum wage job. It's guaranteed that your employees will only be around a couple of years, and there are probably more people signed up for jobs than there openings.

Ian D. Bergkamp
07-16-2010, 02:11 PM
I used to work at a movie theater in Memphis while I was in high school and never got paid overtime, even though I worked well in excess of 40 hours per week during the summer. We were told that we were exempt from overtime because a lot of our job involved sitting around while the movies were showing and, like uninformed high school kids who liked their jobs, we accepted. In retrospect, I cannot believe that we were not entitled to overtime. Looks like there's no such exemption under the current rules, anyway.

07-16-2010, 02:43 PM
In many cases, union contracts will specify how this is done.

When I worked under one, the contract specified that overtime was first offered to the most senior people. If they wanted it, they got it. If they declined, it was offered to the less senior people. But if everybody declined and it got down to the newest employees, it wasn't an 'offer' any more -- it was 'mandatory overtime' for those lowest on the seniority scale.

07-16-2010, 08:32 PM
I did not read the above 'answers' thoroughly, so I might be repeating something. IME, overtime can be denied if a certain type company has a number of employees below a specified amount. I worked a few months with a landscaping/lawn-care company long ago in Austin, and my last week with this person/employer (did all the Sonic Drive-Ins, KFC's, Pizza Huts, and a few other chains and some residential work) we worked close to 100 hours in 6 hot-as-hell days, being told we were getting a huge amount of overtime pay. Only when we were paid straight-time did he tell us that he was NOT required to pay overtime whatsoever -> Take it or leave it". I left as it was only temporary anyways, and another fellow stole all his mowers that night, I heard (LOLOLOL). Sorry-ass mofo, in hindsight, that deserved what he got, imho ;)

Another person tried to 'report' him to the proper enforcement agency (forget name of it) and was told that type of business was definitely exempt of overtime laws of any kind. It was a 'labor job' if it matters, no contract or such. I *think* that some businesses are exempt if they do not employ a certain number of persons - but it has been a LONG time since I heard that, fwiw (mid-80's??)

07-16-2010, 08:39 PM
If you have any specific salary/wage question, go to your state website. Google it. Then look for a section called Wage and Hours. This is where you go to file a complaint or ask a question.

In general how wage/salary works is unless the law says you CAN'T do it. You can.

I was an overtime hog in my youth. And once in awhile I'd hear someone complain about me getting it over them. And I'd tell them, it was true, but I always come in when asked. I pointed out, I come in when it was below zero, when it was Friday overnight and everyone else was out partying, I'd work work double shifts etc etc.

I pointed out that I didn't just want overtime when it was convenient for me. Because I, in the past, did so much for the company, it's fair that I get the first crack at it.

And that usually shut them up.

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