| Read Time: 4 minutes | Employment Law
overtime laws North Carolina

Your time and labor are valuable. They are even more valuable when you work overtime.

Make sure you receive every cent your work is worth by understanding the overtime laws in North Carolina.

And if your employer does not pay by the rules, you can recover everything you are owed by speaking to EMP Law’s experienced employment attorneys

With offices in Charlotte and Winston-Salem, our dedicated legal team serves employees throughout the state.

Call (336) 724-2828 or fill out our online form today to get started.

When Does an Employee Have a Right to Overtime Pay in North Carolina? 

Your right to overtime pay depends on how many hours you work in a workweek. Under federal and North Carolina overtime law, a workweek is seven consecutive, 24-hour days, and the week can start on any day.

If you are not exempt, you must receive overtime pay whenever you work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Even if payday comes once a month, twice a month, or bi-weekly, your employer must pay overtime for any week when you clock an excess of 40 working hours. 

How Much Payment Should an Employee Receive for Overtime Work?

If you work more than 40 hours in a workweek, you must receive 1.5 times your regular pay rate for the excess hours.

Remember that state and federal laws require that you make a regular rate of at least $7.25 per hour.

While $7.25 is the minimum, your employer needs to pay overtime based on whatever rate they promised you. And they must pay 1.5 times the promised rate for your overtime work.

Overtime calculations can get tricky if part of your wages consists of tips from patrons. North Carolina employers can pay tipped employees as little as $2.13 per hour. For this rate to be legal, your tips must bring your wages up to $7.25 per hour. If your tips do not make up the difference, your employer needs to adjust your hourly wage accordingly.

No matter your set hourly pay as a tipped employee, you should receive at least $10.88 per hour (1.5 times the state minimum wage) for overtime work. An experienced North Carolina employment attorney can look at your job, hours, and pay history to ensure you receive all wages you deserve

Overtime Exemptions

While a large number of North Carolina workers are entitled to overtime pay, there are a handful who are not. 

Employers generally do not have to pay overtime to employees who have one of the following job types

  • Executive,
  • Administrative,
  • Professional,
  • Computer, or
  • Outside sales.

Except for outside sales employees, the exemption applies only if the employee makes at least $684 per week (or $27.63 per hour for computer employees). 

Subtle Ways Employers Illegally Withhold Overtime Pay

Employers find sneaky ways to circumvent federal and NC overtime laws to avoid paying the overtime wages you earned. Any employer effort to pay you less than the law dictates is wage theft. This is illegal and can result in civil and criminal penalties. 

Your employer might try to unlawfully withhold overtime by:

  • Misclassifying you as an exempt employee or
  • Averaging your hours over a pay period that is longer than one workweek.

If you have suspicions about not receiving full pay, discuss your paychecks, schedules, and job descriptions with an experienced attorney. 

Misclassifying Employees as Exempt

Your employer might try to save money by giving you a job title that suggests an overtime exemption. Do not let your job title alone dictate whether you receive overtime pay. Federal law does not allow for an exemption if your actual job duties do not fall in line with the exempted categories mentioned above. 

The law has specific criteria for who qualifies as an overtime-exempt employee in each category. 

The criteria can include:

  • The level of education and skill required to perform your job,
  • The types of primary and regular duties you must perform,
  • Your level of authority in the workplace, and
  • The location where you regularly perform your work. 

Each exempted job category has different criteria, and your attorney can determine whether any of the categories apply to you.

Unlawfully Averaging Hours

Many employees receive payment bi-weekly, twice a month, or monthly. Unfortunately, some employers average hours during these pay periods to commit wage theft. Let’s take a look at an example of averaging hours.

Imagine you receive bi-weekly payment, and you work 50 hours one week and 30 hours the next within one pay period. Your employer cannot say that you averaged 40 hours per week to avoid paying overtime for the week you worked 50 hours.

In this scenario, your employer must pay 40 hours at the regular rate and 10 hours of overtime for your first week, and then 30 hours at the regular rate for your second week. Your employer can only use one workweek at a time to calculate your overtime pay. 

Filing a Wage Complaint

Being the victim of wage theft can be infuriating.

You can hold your employer accountable for this egregious behavior. You can recover the money your employer stole from you by filing a wage complaint with the North Carolina Department of Labor or the United States Department of Labor. An attorney can make sure you recover every remedy possible in your complaint. 

Our North Carolina Employment Attorneys Can Help You

If your employer has violated overtime laws in North Carolina, we are here to make it right. At EMP Law, our lawyers have over 140 years of combined experience, and we fight for employee rights.

Whenever you need us, give us a call at (336) 724-2828 or contact us online

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Michael provides compassionate, diligent, and creative legal services that are tailored to meet each client’s specific needs. His experience relating to clients from diverse backgrounds makes him well suited for representing his clients across a broad range of legal areas. He practices in the areas of employment law and family law, and is experienced in criminal law.