How Far Back Can You Claim Overtime?
If your employer owes you unpaid wages, including unpaid overtime, you can file a claim with the Florida Department of Labor and Employment Security, and it will do an investigation. However, in most cases, you must notify your employer in writing that you intend to sue for unpaid wages. Your employer has 15 calendar days – not working days – to pay your claim. It is only after those 15 days are up that you can file a claim or a lawsuit.
Laws that Govern Wages in Florida: How Far Back Can You Sue for Overtime?
The Florida Minimum Wage Statute F.S. §448.110 dictates the notification and filing process to start the recovery of your unpaid wages. But, how far back can you sue for overtime? (F.S. §95.11(4)(c)) dictates that you have two years to file a lawsuit for unpaid wages, including overtime. If you file your claim under the statute of limitation statute, you do not have to notify your employer.
So, just how far back can you claim overtime? If you file under the Florida Minimum Wage Statute, you have two years from the date you were first not paid to file in certain circumstances. If you can show that your employer willfully did not pay you wages, you have three years to file, as long as you file under the Florida Minimum Wage Statute.
How you file your claim depends on your circumstances. It is better to file as soon as possible. If you believe your claim should start on one date, but the court determines it was an earlier date, you will not be able to recover any wages your employer did not pay prior to the cut-off date.
Can You Claim Unpaid Overtime Under Federal Law?
You can claim unpaid wages, including overtime, with the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department of Labor has several regional offices throughout Florida. You have two years from the date the employer first did not pay wages to file a claim with the Department of Labor. However, if you can prove that your employer willfully withheld wages, you have three years to file a claim.
However, you should always seek the help of a wage and earnings attorney as soon as you learn that your employer withheld wages. If you believe your employer purposely withheld wages, but you are not able to prove it, you could lose your claim if you wait more than two years.
How Far Back Can You Claim Overtime?
Since the statute of limitations is two to four years, you can only collect for that amount of time. If your employer did not pay overtime wages in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, and you filed suit in June 2021, you would only be able to collect unpaid wages from June 2019 forward unless your claim falls under the Florida Minimum Wage Statute or you can prove your employer willfully withheld wages.
When You Can Not File a Claim
In certain circumstances, you cannot file a claim to recover unpaid wages and overtime. If the Secretary of Labor has an ongoing lawsuit against your employer to recover wages, you cannot file another lawsuit. And, if you were paid back wages under the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division supervision, you cannot sue to recover back wages.
Retaliation for Filing a Claim
The Fair Labor Standards Act also protects employees. If your employer retaliates against you for filing a claim under the Florida Minumum Wage Statute or F.S. §95.11(4)(c), it could face fines under the Fair Labor Standards Act. If the court determines that your employer’s conduct was willful, your employer could face fines of up to $10,000. The Act also states that an employer could face fines of up to $1,000 per repeated minimum wage violation.
Hiring an Employment Lawyer
You might be wondering if recovering unpaid wages and overtime is as simple as filing a claim with the Florida Department of Labor and Security why you should retain an employment attorney. Wage claims are never as simple as they seem. And, if your employer was involved in intentional wage withholding practices or might retaliate against you for filing a claim, your employment attorney can better protect your rights under the law.
Your employment attorney can also help preserve the evidence you need to support your claim and work with you to determine the best strategy for a favorable outcome for your claim. Finally, an employment attorney will also make sure that your employer is not committing additional violations, such as breaking a contract or discrimination.
If you win a claim filed under the Florida Minimum Wage Statute, you can recover any unpaid wages your employer illegally withheld plus the same amount in liquidated damages. You are also entitled to recover attorneys’ fees and costs. However, if the employer can prove that it withheld wages in good faith and / or believed that the withholding of your wages did not violate Section 24 of Article X of the State Constitution, you might not receive liquidated damages.
If your employer fired you because of your claim and you win, your employer must reinstate you. You could also recover other injunctive relief – non-monetary damages. However, you cannot recover punitive damages under the Florida Minimum Wage Statute.
Changes in Overtime Laws
Florida overtime laws follow the federal overtime laws, which sometimes change. Your employer must follow the overtime laws as dictated by the Fair Labor Standards Act and its amendments.
Recent changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act include:
- A final rule that allows your employer to pay bonuses and other incentive-based pay to those who are salaried and nonexempt with varying weekly hours. The Department of Labor announced this rule on May 20, 2020.
- Certain establishments that were on the non-retail list may now claim that they have a retail concept. This changes how overtime is paid to employees of these establishments. The Department of Labor announced this final rule on May 18, 2020.
In 2019, on December 12 and September 24, respectively, the Department of Labor announced that employers could more easily offer benefits and perks to employees, and a final rule that would make 1.3 million Americans who were not previously eligible for overtime now eligible to collect overtime. Since these changes are outside of the statute of limitations, you should check them as soon as possible to see if the 2019 changes apply to your work situation.
If you believe that you were entitled to collect overtime, but your employer did not pay you the overtime wages, contact an overtime claims attorney for a consultation and review your situation to determine if your employer should have paid you overtime.