Wage theft—when employers fail to pay their employees the amounts they are legally required to for the work their employees perform—is by some estimates more common than all forms of robbery combined. Ross Eisenbrey, Wage Theft Is a Bigger Problem than Other Theft – But Not Enough Is Done to Protect Workers, Econ. Pol’y Inst. (Apr. 2, 2014), available at http://www.epi.org/publication/wage-theft-bigger-problem-theft-protect [https://perma.cc/E6FY-F992]. A significant part of that is unpaid overtime in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
Given the magnitude of the problem and the limited resources of the U.S. Department of Labor, the burden is often on you as the employee to sue and prove that you are owed overtime pay, as well as how much you are owed. The FLSA requires employers to keep records of employees’ wages and hours, but does not allow an employee to sue employer just for failing to keep proper records. Thus, often—especially in situations where your employer is illegally treating you as a salaried employee to avoid paying you overtime altogether—you can have a hard time even figuring out what you are actually owed.