NC workers owed in unpaid overtime

RALEIGH, NC — A new study claims the average North Carolinian worked 1.7 hours of overtime every week in 2022 but was not paid for it.

What you need to know A new study says North Carolina workers will owe $3.6 billion in unpaid overtime by 2022

A North Carolina labor attorney with the North Carolina Justice Center says some employees are still entitled to overtime and are misclassified by their employer

Find out more about your employment rights by checking out this fact sheet from the Department of Labour

In fact, the wage study by law firm Bisnar Chase says private sector employees in North Carolina will be owed a total of $3.6 billion in unpaid overtime as of 2022. This is based on the median salary, annualized.

To see how the Tar Heel State compares to others, check out the study’s map.

Scheduled employees must be paid a minimum of $35,000 or $684 per week under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and work in an administrative, professional, managerial, computing, or field service role.

Clermont Ripley, an employment law attorney and co-director of the North Carolina Justice Center’s Worker’s Rights Project, says it’s a common misconception that employees aren’t entitled to overtime pay.

“Unfortunately, we see that on a regular basis,” Ripley said. “We see this common misconception that someone who pays a salary is never entitled to overtime. And that’s actually not right.”

“There are tons of other people who just aren’t getting paid overtime because of other misconceptions that we’ve heard recently,” Ripley said.

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Ripley says there are exceptions when people regularly receive deductions from their pay, and sometimes workers are mistakenly classified as exempt when they aren’t.

“Even if you make more than $35,000, the exemption may not apply either. It also has to do with the type of work you do and whether or not you really get paid on a salary basis,” Ripley explained.

Aside from the unpaid work, Ripley also sees wages not keeping pace with inflation and the cost of living.

“If it (wages) were adjusted for inflation, it would be closer to $60,000 now. The idea behind the pay threshold is to ensure that people who are paid a salary are still being paid fairly for their overtime,” Ripley said.

Finally, she recommends that employees know their rights.

“Ask questions if you think you’re not being paid properly. You have a right to talk about it with your colleagues…” Ripley said. “You have the right to talk to your employer about it and complain if you think you’re not being paid properly.”

To find out more about your employment rights, see this fact sheet from the Department of Labour.