Many employees in the high tech industry are required to work extensive overtime without pay. In fact, as many professionals in the industry know, working a 60-plus hour workweek is considered the industry standard. While employers claim that they work these employees so hard because of a lack of skilled professionals in the field, the truth is that they are reaping great rewards at a significant cost to their employee’s quality of life. Thankfully, Congress enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to combat such abuses, and to preclude employers from gaining a windfall at the expense of their workers. Although the FLSA was enacted primarily to combat unpaid overtime abuses by sweatshops and other manufacturing employers, its provisions apply to most workers in America’s present service-based economy, including high tech professionals. Under the Department of Labor’s regulations, unless an employer can prove that an employee engaged in computer-related work meets all of the qualifications for a specific exemption, the employer is required to pay the employee overtime under the FLSA. Because the FLSA requires an employer to pay a non exempt employee “time and a half” for each hour worked, even if the employee is paid on a salary basis, an employer who does not pay qualified employees for their overtime worked gains a significant unfair advantage over its competitors who obey the law. As the studies show, forced unpaid overtime is not only unlawful in certain instances, but also harmful to the employee’s quality of life and the employer’s ultimate bottom line.
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