Unpaid Overtime Claims in Florida: What are Liquidated Damages Under the FLSA?
Nonexempt employees who are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are entitled to overtime pay—1.5x their standard hourly wage—for each hour worked beyond 40 in a given week. Full and fair overtime wages should be issued without delay. Generally, this means including overtime pay as part of an employee’s regular paycheck.
When employers fail to pay overtime, they can be held liable for liquidated damages under the FLSA. In many cases, this provision of the law allows affected workers to recover double back pay. Below, our West Palm Beach employment law attorneys explain the most important things you need to know about liquidated damages under the FLSA.
Workers are Entitled to Compensation for Actual Unpaid Overtime
As a starting point, employees who bring a failure to pay overtime claim under the FLSA are entitled to financial compensation for the actual value of their lost wages. In other words, a court or enforcement agency must determine how much the worker should have been paid. That amount will form the basis of their damages.
As an example, imagine that you work at a construction company in Palm Beach County making $20 per hour. If you were unlawfully denied overtime pay for 100 hours of labor, you should be paid $1,000 of base damages for unpaid overtime. Your overtime rate should have been $30 per hour for 100 hours, but you were only compensated for $20 per hour by your employer—meaning you are still owed an additional $10 per hour * 100 hours ($1,000).
Liquidated Damages Allow for Double Back Pay
Lawmakers recognized that workers face serious hardship by being denied timely payment of their wages. To address this, the FLSA punishes employers that operate in bad faith or that negligently violate the law.
When you make an unpaid overtime claim, you may be eligible to claim additional compensation for liquidated damages. Under the statute, liquidated damages are equal to the amount that you should have received, if you had been paid properly.
In other words, liquidated damages allow for the possibility of double back pay. The previously mentioned hypothetical construction worker who was improperly denied $1,000 in overtime pay may also be entitled to an additional $1,000 in liquidated damages.
Liquidated Damages are Not Automatically Awarded
If you bring a successful unpaid overtime claim under federal law, you are not necessarily guaranteed liquidated damages. Indeed, liquidated damages are not a mandatory remedy under the FLSA. While liquidated damages are awarded in many unpaid overtime cases, courts will typically only do so if the employer is deemed to have acted in bad faith or in a negligent manner. To get liquidated damages for unpaid overtime, it is crucial that plaintiffs bring a strong, well-supported legal case.
Call Our Florida Unpaid Overtime Lawyers for Immediate Assistance
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida employment law attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in unpaid overtime cases. If you have questions about liquidated damages, we can help. To set up a fully confidential consultation with an experienced FLSA attorney, please call us today. With law offices in West Palm Beach and Miami, we represent clients throughout the region.