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Overtime in Massachusetts, please help

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  • Overtime in Massachusetts, please help

    I am an hourly employee. I was asked to go to Mexico to our sister plant, and I did. Others travel there on a regular basis, but they are all exempt employees. When I came back and turned in my time sheet, I was compensated for all my hours, including time and a half for all hours over 40. They came back the following week and said they wanted to take back some of my overtime because they intended to pay me only 8 hours for the days I travelled, despite the fact that I put in 3.5 hours of work on both of the days in questions.

    I feel like they have put me in a position where I'm salary when they don't want to pay me the overtime to travel, but I'm hourly if I want to leave early to go to the dentist.

    We are a small company without an HR professional, so they call a non profit organization to ask them what the law states.

    What should I tell them? Is there a code I can cite to back up my argument that this arbitrary declaration of when I am salary and when I am hourly is unfair?

    In case you need to know, the travel time back and forth to our sister plant amounts to approximately 14 hours each way, and I worked 3.5 hours in the Mexico plant both days, as well.

    I called the Massachusetts Dept of Labor and their response was "they can't do that!" They advised me to call the US Dept. of Labor. I did and their response was "they can't do that!" . Then they asked me where I travelled to. When I said Mexico, they said that they would be unable to help me because I left the country and therefore, their jurisdiction, despite the fact that the company is based in Brockton, MA.

    I suspect I will be discussing this with my boss within a couple of days so any advice you can give me is appreciated, and the sooner the better!

  • #2
    If the federal DOL is telling you that U.S. wage and hour laws don't apply when you work for a division of your company in another country, then that's that. Since you apparently can't make a legal argument as to why your pay shouldn't be reduced, then the appeal you need to make to your boss is in the context of the "big picture" - non-exempt employees aren't going to be very willing to help the company out and work long hours at the sister plant if they aren't going to be adequately and fairly compensated for their time and effort.

    Do keep your emotions in check and prepare for the meeting - you need to present the business case why your compensation for your overtime shouldn't be changed.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hate To Think...

      I hate to think I work for a company that will use a loophole in the law in order to short change me when I did what was asked of me.

      I have a real problem with the fact that the company made the travel arrangements, I was not ASKED if I wanted to go, I was told to go, and I never received any heads up that I would not be compensated for my time on the travel end of things.

      I wonder what will happen the next time they tell me I want to go and I tell them that I'm not going unless they intend to compensate me for my travel time....

      Comment


      • #4
        Business case

        I will make a business case argument that because we own the plant in Mexico but are based in the United States, I think that it is fair to treat this situation as if the plant were also in the United States. So, please tell me...if our sister plant were in NEW Mexico rather than Mexico, what would the law say?

        Thank you for your insight.

        Comment


        • #5
          I wonder what will happen the next time they tell me I want to go and I tell them that I'm not going unless they intend to compensate me for my travel time.... Unless you're prepared to be fired, ultimatums are not a good idea.

          I understand why you're feeling ripped-off - I would be too and I think your company is completely missing the boat by not paying you as they would be required to if you had done the work anywhere in the U.S. I strongly suggest you follow my recommendation though - prepare a business case for your boss as to why your pay should not be changed. Yes, I know, you shouldn't have to do this but the reality is you do. Be a through professional in how you approach this and your boss will be impressed no matter how this turns out.

          Comment


          • #6
            Beth:

            I agree and think you've made a good point. I have also realized that there were some errors in my understanding of what I should put in for travel time and part of my game plan is to offer to remove 3 hours from my time. Ironically, I realized that a mistake in my time keeping (forgot to adjust for a time zone difference) means that I did not put in for three hours on Friday, my last travel day.

            What would the law be if I had been travelling between United States locations?

            I intend to approach this with her without using the word "feeling"...I figure that's a good start to keep it from being about what I want, etc. They have an offer on the table to remove 7 hours of overtime, but I don't even understand the arbitrary way in which they came up with that.......

            And I guess if they ask me to go again, I will make it a point to split my travel into however many days it takes to get there in 8 hour shifts! (just kidding)

            Comment


            • #7
              Under federal law, daily travel time is compensible when it occurs during the employee's regular hours of work or outside the employee's regular hours of work but on a scheduled workday.

              If an employee travels on an overnight trip, the employee need only be paid for travel time (excluding meal periods) which occurs during regular hours of work and for travel time on Saturday, Sunday or a holiday. The employee is not required to be compensated for traveling outside working hours as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus, or automobile. If the employee is not a passenger (i.e. he/she is driving the car or flying the plane), then the time spent traveling outside of normal working hours is compensible.

              Comment


              • #8
                Out of State Travel Time

                Beth, It might be helpful to add the following additional explanation regarding MA state law:

                455 CMR Section 2.01, provides that an employee who has to report "to a location other than his or her regular work site...shall be compensated for all travel time in excess of his or her ordinary travel time between home and work..."

                It also states that, "Travel that keeps an employee away from home overnight shall be compensated for in a manner consistent with 29 CFR sec. 785.39."

                Also, the Divisoin of Occupational Saftey (DOS) in MA, which has promulgated the regulations governing hours worked, has opined in a letter concerning employees asigned to an alternate site (in that case, Auburn versus Gardner) "for the convenience of the employer" that the employer must compensate for the additional travel time.

                Phil

                ___________________________
                This is provided for information purposes only. This is not legal advice, and the author makes no representation as to whether any of it is accurate or correct. You should consult a lawyer who can provide advice tailored to your situation before making decisions with legal implications.
                Last edited by bostonlawyer; 11-23-2005, 06:14 AM.
                ___________________________
                This is provided for information purposes only. This is not legal advice, and the author makes no representation as to whether any of it is accurate or correct. You should consult a lawyer who can provide advice tailored to your situation before making decisions with legal implications.

                Comment


                • #9
                  confusion reigns

                  I still say that there ought to be different rules for hourly employees. It's just not equitable that when I put in a 17 hour day travelling, they look at me and say "we're paying you for 8" but if I leave early for a dentist appointment, I'm paid an hourly rate.

                  Comment

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