Finance chiefs are well aware that requiring employees to work more than 40 hours in a single workweek and then failing to pay them overtime is something that can get them in major legal trouble.
But what happens when a company’s employees ask to work extra hours at their regular pay rate – as opposed to one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay?
‘Could not pay the overtime’
Granted, this isn’t something most employers are likely to encounter.
But for one business owner, it’s a situation he found himself in after workers allegedly begged for extra hours.
Here’s some background: According to a DOL investigation, Citywide Protection Services failed to pay overtime to 30 security guards.
Instead, the employees were paid straight time for the hours over 40 they worked in a single workweek.
Reason: The employees requested and agreed to the straight time arrangement.
Citywide’s President George Lewandowski said his employees repeatedly requested extra hours because they needed the money for their families.
As Lewandowski put it:
“I said: ‘I can’t pay the overtime. I’ll let you work at straight time. They [Citywide’s security guards] were aware that I could not pay the overtime – no matter what!”
And that’s just what Citywide did – until the DOL came knocking.
Good intentions don’t matter
Regardless of Lewandowski’s intentions, his actions violated the FLSA. As the DOL pointed out, if a non-exempt employee works more than 40 hours in a single workweek, his or her employer must pay that employee overtime.
And that’s true regardless of whether that employee offers to receive straight-time pay.
In the end, Citywide agreed to pay $14,760 in back OT to 30 workers.