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My friend who works in Massachusetts gets overtime when she works on Sundays and holidays. How come I don’t?

While the federal government has established wage and hour laws that bind employers in all states, states themselves may make laws providing more protection to employees.  In law professor and judge terms, the federal laws are a “floor” and not a “ceiling.” For example, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.  Connecticut’s minimum wage is $8.70 per hour.  States can go above the federal minimum, but never below.

In this instance, the federal law governing overtime- the Fair Labor Standards Act- provides that non-exempt employees get overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week.  Many states have chosen to provide more protection to employees, for example, the Massachusetts law mentioned above. California provides overtime to certain employees after they have worked more than 8 hours in one day, instead of 40 in a week (so an employee in CA would get overtime for working 4 10-hour days, while an employee in Connecticut would not).  In New York, an employee who is owed back overtime pay may claim six years of unpaid overtime instead of the two provided for in Connecticut law. Here in Connecticut, certain kinds of employees who are exempt from overtime under federal law are entitled to overtime under Connecticut law (e.g., computer professionals).

Think you’re owed unpaid overtime under state or federal law?  Call up the Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore!