Whether you are a volunteer or you work for a nonprofit, you have rights. Employment laws are in place to protect you, to protect your employer, and to protect the workforce. If you feel that your rights are (or have been) violated at work, you can speak to an attorney regarding your options. The problem with employment laws is many people who work for a company are too nervous to speak up when their rights are violated. They’re worried they could lose their job, their boss might make their work life miserable, or they’ll put themselves in a situation where every little thing they do is scrutinized.
It’s not uncommon, but it’s illegal. Let’s say you are working for a nonprofit organization. Your workday consists of an 8-hour shift. You are almost done at work when your boss asks you to stay later. Things aren’t going well or someone called in or the boss just wants everyone to stay since he has to stay. Whatever the reasons, you cannot be there for more than 8 hours today. You have an appointment or no childcare for your little ones. You are only scheduled to work 8 hours, and you inform your boss it simply isn’t possible for you to stay longer. With that polite refusal, your boss informs you that you stay late or you lose your job. What do you do?
Here’s the situation regarding overtime and your job. You can be fired if you don’t work the overtime your boss asks you to work. It’s not always fair, kind, or even something you want to do, but you can lose your job if you don’t work the hours your boss asks you to work. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that you are entitled to overtime pay, however. There is no limit to how many hours your boss can work you every week, but there are laws that mandate you are paid overtime for your additional time at work. The law is complex, but here’s all you need to know about it.
If you are a salaried employee, it means you are not entitled to overtime pay. You don’t get paid more for working 60 hours per week, but you typically don’t get paid less if you work fewer than 40 hours per week. Most employers use something called the honor system. You are salaried, and you work much longer than 40 hours a week so you’re not required to use your personal time if you want to leave early one day or take time off for an appointment. You honor your schedule, and they honor your schedule in return.
If you are a non-salaried employee, your boss is required to pay you overtime if you work more than 40 hours per week no matter what. The caveat here is that they are not required to pay you overtime if you work an 18-hour day one day but work less than 40 hours the entire week. There are a few states that require all employers to pay their employees overtime if they work more than 8 hours in one day even if they work fewer than 40 hours per week, but that’s not a law in most states.
It’s important to note that this really depends on where you live. The FLSA laws in every state are different, and your state might not make it possible for your employer to fire you if you refuse to work overtime. There are also a few other things to consider when your boss threatens to fire you for refusing overtime.
While it’s possible for your boss to fire you for refusing to work overtime, you may have some rights. For example, if you’ve already worked 30 hours of overtime that week and refuse to work another 8, you probably have some ground to stand on if you are fired. That’s excessive, and most people can agree that you aren’t refusing because you are lazy or not taking your job seriously.
Another factor to consider is the reason behind your refusal. Do you have kids and your spouse is out of town? If you don’t have someone to pick up and care for your small children on the day you’re asked to work overtime, you might have some rights. If you are officially off the clock and on your way to an appointment or you are now on vacation for a week, you might have more rights.
Every situation is different, and many of those situations can work to your advantage if your employer fires you for refusing to work overtime. Your employer might not want to have the bad publicity that comes along with firing someone. Especially someone who didn’t work overtime because she’s a single mother whose only other options were to abandon her kids at daycare past closing or leave to pick up her kids because the facility is closing and she has no childcare.
If you do work overtime, your employer must pay you the overtime hours you worked, provided you are not a salaried employee. If you are being threatened with losing your job at a nonprofit because you refuse to work overtime, you might be fired. You also might have some rights.
The best course of action is to call an attorney. Your attorney can go over the employment laws in your state as well as your employment contract to see if your employer violated any laws. If your employer is guilty of violating employment laws or you had a valid reason to refuse overtime, you might be able to file a lawsuit against the company.
Without knowing the specifics and your personal story, it’s difficult to tell you what you can do at this point. The best advice is to call an employment law attorney in your area to ask questions, find out if you have a case, and to see what actions you must take next. You could have rights, but you could also find yourself at a dead end. It’s worth trying to figure out what you should do, though. Call an attorney for help if you lose your job.