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I work for a company in Texas, where employers are legally obligated to pay time and a half for overtime hours. In my employee contract it states computer programmers (that's me) are required to work 42.5 hours a week, which I don't mind. However, I just recieved my first paycheck, and despite that, my pay is equivalent to 40 hours of work. It actually states I've only done 40. Not only am I not getting overtime for the work I've put in, I'm not even getting single time for anything past 40 hours. I am certain this is not because they think I've only put in 40 hours. I asked a cooworker if he has had the same experience and he said legally they are obligated to pay overtime, they just don't.

I've been here two weeks now, and don't feel I have enough staying power to start asking questions about this (especially with the reputation millenials have for wanting to work the bare minimum), but I'm also concerned that if I don't soon I will lose my opportunity to do so in the future. I'm considering just playing the confused card, "I thought I worked 42.5 hours but this says I've worked 40, have I made a mistake?", but if they tell me that's simply the case, where do I go from there? Presumably the other programmers have simply dealt with this, and I don't want my position jeapordized because I spoke out about it.

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    Are you exempt or non-exempt? If you're exempt, then they are not obligated to pay overtime, and programmers are exempt, I think. – thursdaysgeek Jun 9 '17 at 17:36
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    Does your contract say work 42.5 or be there 42.5. This looks to me like 8 hours a day working plus a half hour mandated lunch break, if that is case you are being paid correctly. – cdkMoose Jun 9 '17 at 17:37
  • @thursdaysgeek I've checked out the exempt status, and I guess I do qualify to be exempt as a computer programmer, but should I still get payed the extra 2.5 a week with a normal salary? It just says I haven't worked them. cdkMoose, it's "work 42.5". I'm here 9 hours a day to make up for the lunch break. I know I'm working 42.5 and they do too, that's not up for question here. – user71211 Jun 9 '17 at 17:44
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    I guess you're right, but prior to posting this question, I didn't realize I was exempt, and prior to working here officially (I've interned with 40 hour work weeks 3 times over summers), I didn't realize permanent employees worked 42.5 hours, so I'm still trying to learn what my expectations should be. When I get home I'll look more closely over my contract and see if I have any standing here. – user71211 Jun 9 '17 at 18:15
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    Just FYI.. but the Overtime rules for the US department of labor are located here. There are a couple of states that have local laws on top of these (California is one) but for the most part all states follow these regulations. – DanK Jun 9 '17 at 19:49
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If you are not exempt, then you must be paid for every hour worked. If you are exempt, then they cannot put "must work 42.5 hours a week" into your contract, because as an exempt employee you work to get the job done, no matter how long it takes.

Time sheets are legal documents and putting down incorrect information in your time sheets could be considered fraud. It's simple: The timesheet must contain the time you worked, no matter what.

It looks quite obvious that they are trying to take advantage of you, so look for a new job. And the you signed for a new job, you give your notice.

  • I don't agree that a contract cannot have a number of hours in it no matter your employment status. This shows the minimum expectation from the employer, which for some employees they can unilaterally increase if they wish. Employers typically expect you to ask them for more work when you are done, I doubt very many would be happy to hear "I got the job done so I took the rest of the week off". – Eric Nolan Sep 27 '18 at 9:53
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In general, salary employees are exempt from being paid overtime - however many hours you work, you get paid the same.

Now there are some caveats to that - if you are expected to work more than 40h on regular basis, you are entitled to be paid for the extra time. Obviously this is very technical and I'm not a lawyer so you need to check with one, but it sounds like the company is trying to take advantage of you.

If they expect you to work 42.5 hours on regular basis but falsify your time sheets to show only 40h of work, it's possible that they are doing so because they realize that they might be on the hook for paying you for the extra time.

You should definitely check with a labor attorney. Basically, they can't treat you as hourly employee and call you exempt just so they avoid paying you overtime.

  • The problem I have with that is if i'm being swindled, it's only been over 2.5 hours so far. Any course of action like that is going to make me lose more than I'd earn, plus, I'd certainly lose my job. Or at the very least, it will become miserable. There's like 10 programmers, I don't want to become a pariah – user71211 Jun 9 '17 at 17:47
  • @user71211 Most lawyers will do the first consultation for a set price (usually around $100) or even for free so checking what your options are costs you very little (your company won't know). Once you are informed you can decide what to do. – ventsyv Jun 9 '17 at 17:53
  • @user71211 only 2.5 hr/week = 130 hr/year – DLS3141 Jun 9 '17 at 18:19
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    "you are entitled to be paid for the extra time" - Unless you live in California (where they have some more liberal OT laws), I don't believe that to be legally true. Working some unpaid overtime is pretty much the price you pay for being a salaried worker in the US. The pay-off is that by and large you should be making much more money than your "paid by the hour" counterparts. But that depends of course on the company... this is why evaluating the work/life balance of a corporate culture is extremely important when interviewing for a job. – DanK Jun 9 '17 at 19:43
  • Heck I have been expected to work 60-80 hours a week and only paid for 40 (you can imagine,that I moved on fairly quickly!). That was after I was converted to exempt (losing the overtime time pay I was getting) and my subordinate was still non-exempt, so he worked no overtime at all and I had to work all the overtime he previously worked. In the US exempt workers are often to expected to work well in excess of 40 hours with no additional pay. – HLGEM Jun 9 '17 at 20:31

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