Dear Evil HR Lady,
Hi, I am wondering about overtime etc. Basically, my wife has worked in an office most of her life. Recently, she has been working for a small business as an office manager; running the office, ordering parts, making sure the other people were getting their work schedule for the day, etc.
She worked 3 years there, basically worked through lunch etc, stayed late waiting on workers to get in, getting office supply on the weekends etc. So after 2 years she decided to put probably 3-5 hours on her time sheet which made that overtime, as every 1 else was paid it when they worked overtime.
After about 8 months, her boss fired her for doing it, said he didn’t approve it. Said she was stealing from him. now he’s trying to have her arrested for it? Is this right that he can do this?
It’s not right and he can’t do this. I mean, sure he can call the police, but it’s actually against the law to NOT put all the hours you worked on the time card. Now, a boss can certainly fire someone for working unauthorized overtime, but they still have to pay for the unauthorized overtime.
The law is so strict that even if the boss said, explicitly, “You are not authorized to work more than 40 hours a week. If you work more than 40 hours a week I will not pay you for that time. Is that clear?” and you worked 41 hours, he’d still be required to pay you time and a half for that last hour even though he told you not to. It’s why this lady got fired for working through lunch. The law allows no exception for a non-exempt employee to work without pay.
Now, that said, a reminder: the boss can certainly fire you for working unauthorized overtime, but he still has to pay.
Now, this boss is an idiot on many levels (he should have noticed the overtime 8 months ago), and even more so because if your wife has only been recording her overtime for the past 8 months, and she worked overtime before that, she’s legally entitled to overtime pay for the previous time too. Yeah! So, go ahead and contact the Department of Labor and file a complaint. Normally I would tell you to be cautious about this if you were willingly working off the clock because this will burn bridges and few hours overtime isn’t worth the bad reference. But, once the boss tries to have you arrested, that bridge is already burned, so it’s time to reap the rewards of such a blazing fire.
Now, the one exception to this is if she falsified her time card. If she really wasn’t working those hours then, yeah, that’s fraud. Would the police/district attorney’s office investigate? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on how much fraud it involved. But as long as she actually worked those hours, he’s the one who should be worried.