Overtime for Paralegals? The answer is YES.
Virtually every law firm, other than a solo practitioner, has paralegals on staff. Sometimes paralegals get paid a weekly salary, and other times paralegals get paid by the hour. When paid a salary, many law firms misclassify, either negligently or intentionally, their paralegals as exempt from receiving overtime pay. The result is that paralegals, who work more than 40 hours in a work week, are deprived of significant amounts of overtime compensation.
Recently, we were contacted by a paralegal, who was deprived of overtime pay by his law firm. It was shocking to see how much overtime pay he was entitled to receive, but that he did not receive due to being improperly misclassified as an exempt employee. You would think that a law firm would know better, and that they would comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act and its overtime requirements. But unfortunately misclassification of paralegals is not an uncommon event. In addition to recovering his unpaid overtime wages, the paralegal will be entitled to recover liquidated damages in an amount equal to the unpaid overtime. This essentially means that he will recover double damages.
Over the years, various opinion letters have been issued by the United States Department of Labor (DOL) concerning a paralegal’s overtime eligibility. In every opinion letter issued by the DOL, paralegals have been entitled to overtime. If you are a current or former paralegal and you have any questions regarding lost overtime wages, please contact us and we will be happy to answer any of your questions.
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