Overtime labor can be expensive for employers. After all, they are paying their workers at least time and half, which increases labor costs. Realistically, it’s much more cost-effective for an employer to pay an existing employee a higher wage than it is to train someone and retain a part-time employee for only a few hours of work a week.
For whatever reason, many employers, particularly those in retail and customer service industries, have policies that do not allow any overtime work. Instead of carefully controlling hours and schedules, some of these employers may try to take advantage of workers.
If your manager or supervisor has ever asked you to clock out and return to work, there’s a good chance your employer is breaking the law. Many times, companies engage in these practices to avoid paying employees the overtime wages they should receive under federal law. Far too often, these requests are not requests, but demands. Typically, a request for unpaid labor is backed by either an explicit or implicit threat about the continuation of your employment. Other times, the potential for a raise or a promotion could get used to force employees to agree to work without getting paid adequately.
Forcing employee to work ‘off the clock’ is against the law
No employer has the right to make you work without pay. Even if there is concern that your overtime wages could impact profit margins, your employer still has to pay you an appropriate wage. Sadly, many stores and restaurants incentivize law-breaking by offering managers bonuses to meet corporate projections for labor and sales. The company will create a plan, based on last year’s sales on the same day, meant to predict necessary labor. Management needs to adhere to those figures if they hope to obtain a bonus. All too often, hourly workers end up paying the price by working without fair pay.
Working “off the clock” doesn’t show that you’re a good employee. It shows that your employer is willing to break the law. It also indicates they have little respect for the time and value of the staff. You shouldn’t just accept this as a fact of retail work. You should demand fair pay and refuse to work when clocked out/not on payroll.
You may need to speak with an attorney if your employer is:
-asking you to clock out and return to work
-deleting your overtime hours
-manually changing your timeclock information
-otherwise violating your right to fair pay
An experienced Tennessee workplace law attorney can help you push back against illegal wage practices. Your lawyer can help you determine if the law is being violated and help you document what is happening. Holding your employer accountable will not only help you potentially recoup lost overtime wages, it will also protect future employees from similar abuse.