For all of us who have worked hourly — instead of salaried — jobs, we know that getting underpaid on an hourly basis is bad enough. But when you’re getting cheated out of your already-sad hourly rate because your manager surprises you with seemingly-small, end-of-day tasks and doesn’t allow you to clock your accomplishments as overtime? That’s when your head becomes a cartoon thermometer, red rising past the point-of-no-return mark to a whopping “You’re F*cking Joking, Right?” degrees Fahrenheit. I love me some Sunday-morning Looney Tunes, but…not while l’m on the clock, busting my butt.
There are countless overtime-cheat stories out there; the small-scale, Michael-Scott-like machinations of the managers behind these sleight-of-hand labor compensation practices are at once infuriating and funny (until you get your pay stub). Naturally, Reddit is a glittering gold mine, packed with these sorts of hourly mishaps. I’ve taken the liberty of picking my way through the responses — ranging from callous to irate to sympathetic — in response to Drascicpark‘s all-too-common woe:
My employer requires me to stay after “close” to lock up, count drawers, etc., but says she isn’t required to pay me for that time. Help?
Aaaaand…we’re off to the races. Here are the best advice and worst stories (of revenge, of triumph, of trickery, of loss) that people offered in response to young Drascicpark’s plight.
1. “I’m an IT Engineer, but for a medium-sized company. They run their teams pretty lean, so people juggle [tasks.] They use us a lot for manual labor (moving office furniture; I even had to build a fucking cubicle). What’s to stop companies from abusing the exemption status, and making employees do completely unrelated job duties to save money on hiring a facilities person? Example: they use me, an IT engineer, to do the above manual labor stuff during down time, for sometimes five to 10 hours in addition to their regular 40 hours, for these type of manual labor projects. I’m not some lazy millennial who has a ‘not my job’ attitude. We have absolutely NO facilities person. I do about 80% of these manual labor office moves: I shovel snow when it’s 3-4 feet high, build desks, build chairs, build cabinets, build cubicles…my work load piles up because all the system security audit requests, system support requests, requests for transfers, requests for account permissions and group permissions, and so on, pile up. It gets to a point where there’s a backlog. This is not a case of ‘herp derp, lazy IT bro doesn’t wanna do shit.’ I’m specifically singled out because I’m 6’2″ and 225lbs and I hit the gym often…so they just say ‘Oh, the buff guy loves this shit, make him do it.'” — WeTheAwakened
3. “Yes, however: if the DoL suddenly starts investigating her, and you’re the only person who’s had this conversation with her, she’ll know exactly what you did. Expect your relationship to suffer for it, regardless. Can she fire you for it? No, and if she tries after an investigation starts, that’s also against the law…start looking for a new job now. Tell the DoL what’s happening, present your evidence, get your back pay, and leave. Just don’t launch the nuke until you’ve achieved a minimum safe distance (found somewhere else to go first).” — InformationHorder
4. “I had one manager question my loyalty to the company in front of my coworkers in a meeting because I wasn’t willing to work unpaid overtime. It was particularly ironic because I was getting all my work done during regular hours, and even offered to come in late the next day if an emergency required working late, in lieu of overtime. But nope, it was mainly a power trip thing for her. So in the meeting, realizing I wasn’t going to work with this woman, I said to her, ‘Well, you say I’m not loyal. Is the company loyal to me?’ Her: ‘Of course. We’re a family here.’ Me: ‘So, on that basis, you’d be willing to spend an extra 10 hours per week doing my laundry and washing my car, and not get paid for it?’ What really enables bosses to not pay for overtime? People saying, ‘Okay, I’ll do that.'” — BillBixByAkaHulk
5. “This is the best suggestion in the thread: ask for the [overtime pay] terms in writing, with her signature, and see how she responds. If she does it, then you know she doesn’t even realize what she’s doing is illegal. If she is smart, she’ll acquiesce. I had a manager pull this crap with me a long time ago, when I worked in a grocery store, and as soon as they stopped paying me my shift was over, regardless of what extra duties I was expected to perform or how shitty the “close” was. Unless you’re a salaried professional, never work a minute you aren’t getting paid for — you’ll never get that time or money back, ever.” — Nathanjonathan
6. “Yeah, my mom ran into a similar issue. Her work was punch-in punch-out. She made a statement to the effect that she was punching in and out for eight hours a day, but actually working about eight-and-a-half. So, in small claims court, the employer went off about “we can only pay the time you punch in and out” etc., etc. The ruse worked — she had in fact been punching in and out the true eight-and-a-half hours every day. Fuckin’ owned.” — Sterlingz
7. “My brother’s first promotion landed him a supervisor role at Ford in a manufacturing plant. He had 80 people who he needed to check in and check out each day, because in their union contract, they demanded not punching a clock. So he became a babysitter, making sure people stayed at their jobs and didn’t purposely damage their machines so they could go to the break room while the maintenance crew was called. He made sure they didn’t clock in, leave, and then clock out…and all kinds of shenanigans.” — DarwinianMonkey
8. “A few years ago, I worked at a dollar tree during my summer break from university as a stocker. My manager would constantly (four to five times a week) ask me to clock out and then go clean up the store before I left (about 45 minutes of unpaid work). The first time she asked, I flat out told her that I could stay clocked-in and clean, or I could clock out and she could clean the store herself. It’s safe to say that this didn’t sit well with her; she told me if I didn’t do it, I would be fired. I then walked into the break room, pretended to clock out, and went to go clean while still on the clock. I kept doing this for the rest of the summer I worked there. She knew about it and would complain to the assistant managers and other employees that I was “riding the clock,” but never actually did anything about it. As my own form of revenge, I would spend her lunch hour going around the store and rearrange all of the items in the store in such a way that no one would notice from the front of the isle. After about three weeks of doing this, the store’s inventory was a complete mess (she never left the office, so she didn’t know) and the day before the yearly store-wide inventory, I and three other pissed-off employees quit. We left her, the assistant manager, and one employee to inventory that shit-show.” — Hanako_Ikezawa
9. “I used to work as an assistant manager for a company where it was never explicitly stated that I should work off the clock, but when we had a corporate visit coming up, everyone else just did it so that the store would look tip-top, so I did, too. Looking back, the culture was really fucked. Now, I work in the corporate office for a small chain of niche stores (we currently have four), and we have the same issue. Employees love to hang out after work and chat with customers and other employees, and will oftentimes try to jump behind the counter to help their friends, or what have you. It’s really hard to train managers to stop stuff like this, because they don’t see it as a bad thing since the employee does it willingly.” — 32BitWhore
10. “I’m in Ontario, so it’s likely a different story where you are, but we had people outright fired from my high school job for working before or after their scheduled hours. There was a lady in my department (I worked in a large grocery store) who was notoriously slow, so she took to working a full extra hour after she punched out each night, just to get her assigned tasks done. One night, she cut herself — an occupational injury — the only problem was, she wasn’t technically ‘working.’ Her ordeal with management was very messy and ended up resulting in a company-wide policy change that laid out harsh punishments for people who started or ended outside of scheduled hours. We even changed our punch clocks to deny you if you were seven minutes early or late to punch in and out, so you’d have to manually write in a book at the front when you left.” — Too_Bright
11. “I quit a job for precisely this reason. It was a tutoring center, and the lady wanted me to arrive 15 minutes before the first session, stay 15 minutes after the last session to clean up. But she refused to pay me for the extra half-hour because ‘the other employees do it for free.’ This is called wage theft, and it is highly illegal. There is no reason for you to do work to line another people’s pockets without getting compensated.” — Meevis_kahuna
12. “A long time ago, I worked for a restaurant chain that rhymes with ‘Luby Tuesday,’ where servers and other Front of House workers would be required to punch out (to settle their checks) and then do sidework. A few years ago, I received a check in the mail as the result of a class action suit, where it was determined that they should have paid us for that time.” — Tcspears
13. “I’ve worked retail for 37 years and have managed as many as 70 locations, staffed primarily with hourly workers. Your conversation with your boss doesn’t have to be confrontational; talk of lawsuits and shit is ridiculous at this point. Explain that the ‘requirement’ is to pay you for hours worked, regardless of scheduled time, but then ask what the issue is she is trying to address. Perhaps there is a problem with another employee loitering inside the store after closing on their nights and trying to get paid for it. Maybe payroll budget is being missed due to hours paid that were not scheduled. Offer solutions such as scheduling you to 1:10am or 1:15am, so the time is accounted for in weekly budgeting, or suggest locking the door 10 minutes early to count down and then lights out at 1am.” — Larryjacob1
14. “I was a manager at a theater, and all of us managers were required to clock out before finishing our counts and also required to go to the bank to drop deposits off, all unpaid. After asking my manager and then the chief of operations for the company (small company) if I could be paid for my time (and them saying no), I started refusing to do it any more. I would show up on time and clock out exactly on time and leave. Long story short, I got fired. I then contacted a lawyer and pursued legal action against them. I can’t really talk about specifics of the outcome…but it was very favorable to say the least. They claimed since I never outright told them it was illegal, I had no defense. I told the judge that in that same mindset, I’m allowed to rob a bank as long as no one has ever told me it’s against the law. They lost. I would definitely start by playing nice. Ask them to change their policies, explain your concerns. If they refuse to change them, then you have a decision to make.” — HolyShtBatman
15. “I am in the exact same situation, man. I work at a liquor store in Colorado. When the clock hits closing time, I just stop what I’m doing and lock up. If they want to treat me like shit, I don’t care. They can finish things in the morning. My boss has no idea how busy it can get at night, sometimes. Memorial day weekend, I worked a shift by myself from 4pm to 12:30am. I worked a little over 40 hours that week, and my paycheck still said I only worked the 38 hours I do in a normal week. Since then, I’ve kind of checked out of my job and…I’ve started taking pictures of my timecards each week.” — Narwhale-tale
16. “If they’re cutting your hours, or changing your shift constantly, take pictures of the schedule. If they’re trying to get you to do jobs that aren’t technically yours, see if any coworkers will back you up if it comes to court…I worked at a place where the owner tried to fight [an employee’s claim for] unemployment [insurance payments]. One of the waitresses answered the phone when they called to talk about the employee, and she just answered a few questions about the employee. In the end, the store had to pay the unemployment [wages] because the owners didn’t get to put their spin on the situation.” — 2362362345 (bonus points for the most robot-like Reddit name ever).
17. “[Time worked is time paid], except if you’re salaried and exempt. Doesn’t matter if [I’ve worked] 40 hours or 50 hours, I’m paid no more for the 10 extra hours.” — Lostklaw4
18. “Depending on labor laws where you live, certain jobs are considered exempt from overtime. Management jobs tend to be exempt from overtime payments, but salaried workers (who do not have any direct reports, and who make less than a certain amount…$47,476 a year in the USA…a drastic upgrade from $23,660 where it was before) still have to be paid overtime in most places.” — RavingRationality
19. “Fellow IT worker, here. Just spent hours going around the plant putting stickers on things, about to spend a few more hours going around with a notebook writing numbers down from things. Help.” — Gedyminia
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