Federal FLSA Lawyer Handling Overtime Pay Issues for Government Employees

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides several important protections for federal employees. One of these protections is the right to overtime pay. While not all federal employees qualify for overtime pay under the FLSA, many do, and many agencies and offices improperly deny their employees overtime compensation. If you believe that you have been improperly denied overtime pay, you should speak with a federal FLSA attorney about your legal rights.

Federal Employees’ Right to Overtime Pay Under the FLSA

The FLSA entitles qualifying federal employees to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. For purposes of calculating overtime under the FLSA, a “workweek” is defined as, “any fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours,” or “seven consecutive 24-hour periods.”

When a qualifying federal employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek, he or she is entitled to compensation at one and one-half his or her regular pay rate for all hours worked over 40. This includes hours worked on weekends and holidays—but only if the FLSA’s overtime rule applies (in other words, federal employees are not automatically entitled to time-and-a-half simply by working weekends and holidays). Under the FLSA, the government cannot require employees to accept compensatory time off in lieu of financial compensation for overtime.

FLSA Overtime vs. Title 5 Overtime

In addition to the FLSA, there is another law that provides overtime pay rights to federal employees. This law is commonly known as Title 5. But, Title 5’s overtime provisions are not as favorable for federal employees as those in the FLSA; and, as a result, it is important for employees to ensure that they are receiving FLSA overtime when they qualify. Some of the key differences between FLSA overtime and Title 5 overtime include:

  • Under the FLSA, there is no cap on the amount of overtime federal employees can earn in overtime pay. This is not the case under Title 5.
  • Employees covered under the FLSA are entitled to overtime pay at one and one-half times their normal compensation regardless of their GS level, while Title 5 only pays time-and-a-half to federal employees if their hourly rate is below the GS-10 step one rate.
  • Employees covered by the FLSA are entitled to overtime pay for weekend travel when the travel coincides with their normal working hours during the workweek.
  • If the federal government violates an employee’s rights under the FLSA, the employee can recover double damages, back pay, and legal fees and costs. Double damages are not available under Title 5.
  • Overtime claims under the FLSA are subject to a two-year statute of limitations in most cases (this can be extended to three years in cases of willful violations). Under Title 5, federal employees have up to six years to file a claim before they lose their rights. 

Improper Denial of Overtime Under the FLSA

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) holds primary responsibility for administering the FLSA as it applies to federal employees, and it is required to administer the law consistent with the U.S. Department of Labor’s interpretation and enforcement of the law in the private sector. Individual agencies and offices must correctly interpret and apply the FLSA’s overtime rules as well. When a federal agency or office violates an employee’s rights under the FLSA, that employee can – and should – hire a federal FLSA lawyer to pursue just compensation.

Some common examples of FLSA overtime violations within the federal government include:

Misclassification of “Non-Exempt” Employees as “Exempt”

“Non-exempt” federal employees are generally eligible for FLSA overtime, while “exempt” federal employees are not. In many cases, agencies and offices will deny overtime pay as a result of misclassifying non-exempt employees as exempt.

Improper Use of Grade Cutoffs

Some agencies and offices automatically classify employees as exempt when they are at or above a certain pay grade (i.e. GS-9 or GS-12). However, this approach fails to consider all pertinent factors and is generally impermissible.

Improper Treatment of Temporary Assignments

While on temporary assignments, federal employees’ FLSA status may change. If you qualify as non-exempt while on a temporary assignment, then you are entitled to FLSA overtime.

Improper Application of Foreign Workplace Rules

Federal employees stationed overseas are subject to different rules than employees working in the United States. Improper application of these rules can lead to wrongful denials of overtime pay.

Denial of Law Enforcement Availability Pay

Federal agents who receive Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) generally are not eligible for FLSA overtime (although they may be eligible for Title 5 overtime). But, not all federal agents qualify for LEAP, and those who don’t will often be entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA.

Denial of Overtime Pay for On-Call and Waiting Time

Whether federal employees who are on-call or on waiting time are entitled to FLSA overtime pay depends on several different factors. Unfortunately, federal agencies and offices often apply these factors incorrectly.

Denial of Overtime Pay for Travel Time

The overtime pay rules for travel time are complicated. Federal agencies and offices frequently misapply these rules as well.

Exclusion of Paid Leave Hours

Paid leave hours count as hours of work for purposes of determining federal employees’ eligibility for overtime pay under the FLSA. Excluding paid leave hours is a common mistake resulting in an improper denial of overtime compensation.

Pursuing FLSA Overtime Claims

Federal employees who are entitled to unpaid overtime under the FLSA have a few options for asserting their legal rights. However, not all of these options are available in all cases. If you believe that you are entitled to overtime pay that you have not received, a federal FLSA lawyer can determine whether you should file your claim with the OPM, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, or the U.S. District Court for your jurisdiction.

Schedule an Appointment with Federal FLSA Attorney Jay Stafford

Jay Stafford is a federal FLSA attorney who has extensive experience helping federal employees protect their rights against the government. If you need to know more about asserting your right to overtime pay under the FLSA, you can call 410-514-6099 or contact us online to schedule a confidential initial consultation. Our law firm help federal employees nationwide, including workers in North CarolinaSouth CarolinaNew Jersey, Washington DCVirginia, and Maryland.