A "BONUS" IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGALLY-REQUIRED OVERTIME PAY
April 6, 2022
You won't believe this one. Some people were working in construction. The company didn't pay them overtime. Instead, it paid bonuses. A bonus, a flat amount every two weeks, instead of time and a half. The same amount each and every two weeks no matter how many hours worked. A small bonus at that, way less than typical overtime.
The company didn't even try to hide paying them wrong: the proof was in black-and-white on their check stubs. The construction workers objected. But the company owner said that's the way it's done here. If you don't like getting paid the way I'm willing to pay you, there's the door.
The law is that hourly workers are entitled to overtime at 1-1/2 times the hourly rate. Time and a half. No less, no substitute. No bonuses, no perks, no pizza lunches, no recognition awards, not "something extra" for the chosen few, not even atta-boys are legally acceptable instead of time and a half. And no excuses. When the company knows it's paying wrong and does it anyway, that's willful. Willfully paying less than time and a half is penalized by law at double the overtime amount. (The legal term is liquidated damages.)
Pro tip to employers- don't insult and demean workers who know their rights. Those construction workers came to us. It took a while, but we eventually recovered all their lost overtime pay. The owner also paid double in settlement by multiplying the unpaid overtime times two, because he paid wrong knowingly, intentionally, and willfully. For some workers, it was hundreds of dollars. For some, it meant thousands they thought they'd never see. All because some lawyers were willing to take their case, and some workers were willing to take on their company.