The Department of Labor assumes that all hourly employees are paid overtime if they work more than a certain number of hours in a workweek. The additional hours worked during the week are called overtime.

Overtime pay is the additional pay rate paid for working more than the specific number of hours per week. The federal minimum for overtime pay is one and a half times the regular rate for work over 40 hours per week.

What is the Overtime Pay in North Carolina?

North Carolina follows the federal minimum. In other words, an employer must pay its employees at least minimum wage (which is currently $7.25 an hour) for all hours worked set by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Any hours that exceed 40 in a workweek are considered overtime pay at a rate of one and a half times the regular rate of pay.

A workweek is defined as any seven consecutive work days by the FLSA. By way of example, an employee who is paid minimum wage and works 45 hours in a workweek would earn $290 of regular pay plus $54.40 (at a rate of $10.88 per hour of overtime) in overtime pay before taxes.

How is Overtime Calculated if I Receive Tips?

Employers that are tipped can still receive overtime pay. Their rate of overtime pay is calculated by the employee’s regular rate of pay, which includes both the cash wages paid to the employee and the employee’s tip credit to equal at least the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Are There Any Jobs Exempt from Overtime Pay?

Yes. Out of an estimated 120 million workers in America, almost 50 million are exempt from overtime law.

Pursuant to the Fair Labors Standards Act, executives, administrators, and other professionals that earn at least $455 per week do not have to be paid overtime. Further, external salespeople are also exempt from North Carolina’s overtime requirements, as are independent contractors who are not considered legal employees.

Transportation workers, certain agricultural and farm workers, and some live-in employees such as housekeepers may also be exempt from overtime.

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How Do I File an Overtime Claim in North Carolina?

If your employer violates overtime laws, you may have state and federal claims against them. You may file both lawsuits and administrative complaints against your employer.

Under North Carolina law, you can file a lawsuit for unpaid overtime. There is a two-year statute of limitations in overtime lawsuits. In addition to unpaid overtime, you may be eligible for additional money (“liquidated damages”) if your employer intentionally avoided paying overtime.

You also can file a complaint with the North Carolina Department of Labor. This state agency will investigate your claim. If it believes your employer improperly denied overtime pay, it may file a lawsuit on your behalf. However, you cannot file both a personal lawsuit and a N.C. Department of Labor complaint. Under federal law, you have the right to file additional lawsuits and complaints.

Can My Employer Force Me to Work Overtime?

Yes, your employer can require forced overtime. North Carolina does not limit the number of hours most adult employees can work. Additionally, there are few limitations on how and when an employer can order overtime.

In that regard, employers can change shift lengths, add hours without considering your personal life, change your work schedule at the last minute, and even terminate you if you refuse to perform mandatory overtime. Notwithstanding, they must still pay your overtime rate at one and a half your hourly rate.

Should I Seek Legal Help?

Overtime lawsuits can be complicated. For this reason, it is advisable to contact a skilled North Carolina employment law attorney. An attorney will know the laws related to overtime pay, can assess your chances of prevailing, and can file necessary pleadings and represent you in court if you do decide to file suit.