In the United States, there are certain legal protections for employees. One of these protections that exists nationwide, including in Texas, is the guarantee of a certain minimum wage ($7.25 an hour as of 2010), and overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 hours a week. In Texas, some employers are exempt from overtime laws. All other employers must provide overtime, according to the standards upheld by the state of Texas.
Fair Labor Standards Act
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), to which Texas law adheres, overtime pay is required in most fields when an employer allows or requires employees to work more than 40 hours a week. That employer is then legally responsible to pay each employee her regular wages, plus half pay for every hour over 40 hours a week. This includes nonexempt salaried jobs. Overtime requirements may not be waived, even in the case of employer-employee agreements.
Exemptions from Overtime Laws
In Texas, as in the rest of the nation, there are certain professions exempt from overtime pay. This includes teachers, seasonal amusement park employees, workers on fishing vessels, seamen on foreign vessels, newspaper delivery people, farm workers, casual babysitters, journalists, taxi drivers, domestic service workers, movie theater employees, and auto sales personnel. Additionally, some employees in the fields of health care and agriculture may be partially exempt.
Employers in Texas are required to provide overtime pay if not exempt from federal law. Additionally, these employers are required to post an explanation of overtime law and of the other statutes contained within the Fair Labor Standards Act. This poster must be plainly visible to employees during working hours. Only an English-language copy is required. Additionally, it is up to employers to keep adequate records, according to the record-keeping requirements of the FLSA. Employers are responsible for recognizing all instances in which overtime is needed, and for paying employees accordingly.
Employee Rights and Resources
If an employee in the state of Texas is not being paid for overtime and is not working in a field exempt from federal law, then he has the right to file a complaint against his employer. Employees may contact one of five Wage and Labor district offices in Texas in order to do so. An employee lodging a formal complaint is also protected from being fired or otherwise discriminated against because of that complaint.
Potential Penalties for Employers
Employers in Texas that willfully fail to comply with federal regulations involving overtime pay are subject to a fine of up to $10,000. For a second offense, employers could see jail time. Also, the Department of Labor may require employers to pay back wages to employees who did not receive overtime pay when they legally should have.