Are You Owed Overtime Pay?


clockFederal law states that every hour worked ought to be paid according to the state’s definition of minimum wage as well as what a certain company defines their hourly rate to be. In addition, overtime is supposed to be paid at a rate of 1.5 times the normal hourly rate. Many employers, however, feign ignorance when it comes to laws on overtime and unpaid wages in the hopes that their employees will turn a blind eye to this serious labor violation.

What the Law Says On Overtime Pay

According to the law, you can collect unpaid overtime pay up to two years after it was earned. This gives you an opportunity to seek legal counsel even if the violation happened some time ago.

Some of the ways employers try to get out of paying overtime include:

  • Asking workers not to record chunks of time outside the 40 hour workweek.
  • Wrongfully classifying employees as independent contractors.
  • Using the fluctuation workweek model to weasel out of paying you overtime.
  • Enforcing work policies that reduce the number of hours logged.

As an employee, you’re owed overtime if you work over 40 hours a week. However, there are some types of employees who are exempt from this. This may include the following types of workers:

  1. Executives, professionals, and administrative personnel who are paid salaries on a regular basis.
  2. Volunteer workers.
  3. Independent contractors.
  4. Certain computer specialists.
  5. Seamen
  6. Criminal investigators.
  7. Employees working in seasonal recreational centers.

Checking Work Emails After Work? That’s Overtime Too!

In some instances, your employer may require you to carry out certain duties that are related to your work outside of a work setting. This may include things like checking emails on your phone as well as setting up computer programs. Because you are performing work related duties that will benefit the company in the long run, these activities are considered work and you deserve to be compensated for such.

By consulting with an unpaid wages attorney, you’ll be able to determine your legal options and potentially collect what’s owed to you (and even get your employer to pay your legal fees for you). What’s more is that if you use the liquidated damages clause of the Fair Labor Standards Act, you may be able to double your wage claim!

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Business Tips

The Gift of a Bright Business Idea


Christmas presents

The holidays are a time for fun, family, and friends. And, if you’re hoping that the new year will bring you a new life as an entrepreneur instead of an employee, the holidays can also be the ideal time to get a new business idea.

Why are the holidays such a font of business ideas? Here are 3 reasons.

  1. You’ve got some downtime. Chances are you’ve got time off from work for the holidays. Don’t spend all of it baking cookies or lounging on the couch. Devote some time to daydreaming and brainstorming about what type of life you want to have as a business owner. What work experience, skills and personality traits do you have that will lend themselves to a business? Do you want a full-time business with huge growth potential, or a part-time business you can run on the side for now? Are you all about the money, or is it more about the lifestyle?
  2. You’re surrounded by ideas. The holidays are a great time to get insights into hot trends, products, services and demographics. A trip to the local mall, downtown shopping area or restaurant row will give you myriad opportunities to check out what types of gifts are hot, what kinds of stores are thriving, what temporary carts and kiosks are capturing customers and what marketing tactics are being used. You’ll also get an eyeful of the types of people in your local area (families? Singles? Upscale? Working-class?), how they dress and where they like to eat. All of this information can help you spot holes in the marketplace that you can fill. Is your local downtown full of gastropubs, but not one Mexican restaurant to be found? That just might be your big business idea.
  3. You can pick people’s brains. At the holidays, you spend time with people you may not see the rest of the year, including far-flung relatives and old friends from other cities or states. You’ll also be thrown together with different age groups (like your teenage nephew or 75-year-old grandpa) that you may not normally interact with. This is a perfect opportunity to see what others outside your immediate family and demographic think of your business idea.

For example, you might have what you think is a great business idea for a teen-targeted website … until your teenage nieces and nephews shoot it down. Or perhaps you want to create an app to help moms of young children, but your sister-in-law (with her infant triplets on her knee) points out seven competitors you never heard of. Don’t get defensive, but listen with an open mind to your friends’ and family’s input.

You can even talk to people you meet at holiday parties or events. A great way to get business ideas is to ask people what they wish they had, but can’t find, that would make their lives better/easier/happier. When you come across something lots of people want, but no one is offering, that just might be your big idea.

Of course, once you get your business idea, there’s lots of work to do writing a business plan, figuring out financing and setting up shop. But it all starts with the idea—and now is the perfect time to generate one.

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and Twitter @Rieva, and visit her website to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.  

Business Tips

How To Make Your Business Look Bigger Than It Really Is


happenThey say that sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. In the business world, image is sometimes everything. If potential clients think you’re small and unimportant, they will treat you like you are small and unimportant. The problem is you really are small. To be taken more seriously, you might have to look bigger than you really are, just to be a part of the conversation. Here are some tips on how to do just that:

Make your events look big

Anytime you put on a conference, you get to dictate everything about your image. You don’t have to rent a large hall that you can’t fill or afford. Even a smaller space can look important if it is decked out in just the right way.

Event spaces must be clean, uncluttered, well-organized, and well-located. Microsoft, one of the biggest tech companies in the world, just recently put on a conference that was none of that. And they suffered the ire of the reporters they invited.

Rather than keeping participants in the dark about what to expect, provide them with an app for whatever platform they prefer to use. Make sure it is customized to your specifications, allows you to update schedules on the fly, and allow participants to have a safe environment for communication, thus guaranteeing high engagement among participants.

If your IT people can’t produce such an app, you will need to look for professionals. Whomever you choose, make sure they have the flexibility to handle apps for internal and external corporate events, as well as global and regional associations. You will want to maintain continuity of quality across all your events. For information on creating a branded, up-to-date mobile guide for attendees, read about the new DoubleDutch data driven event app.

Branded packaging

If your wine comes in a bag, you’re a wino. If it comes in an artistically crafted bottle, you’re a connoisseur. Put your products in artistically crafted shipping boxes with your style, colors, and logo, and make your customers connoisseurs of fine products.

A plain, brown box is not the best way to make an impression. It looks like something that belongs out next to the dumpster. The colorful printed boxes look like something you would be proud to have on the receptionist’s desk in the waiting room. That is the packaging that is going to make your potential clients feel like they are working with a big company that has its act together.

A professional website

There was a time when a business card conveyed your name, phone number, fax number, address, and logo. Today, it is not uncommon to receive a business card with nothing more printed on it than a URL.

Even if you choose to festoon your business card with all manner of unnecessary information and decorative flourishes, the most important piece of information will still be the URL. You absolutely need a website of some kind to be taken seriously. Imagine how much business you would have received if the answer to the question, ‘What’s your phone number’ was, ‘Sorry. I Don’t have one.’ You would have either been mocked or pitied, but never taken seriously.

Even if your website is just an informational blog that you only update a couple of times a week, it is worth having if for no better reason than it is expected. Also, a professional website masks the size of your business. No one can tell you are a one-person shop if your site is a professional as the big players.

Just a quick word of warning: Don’t overdo it. If you make yourself look too big, you might just catch a bigger fish than you can handle. GT Advance was a smallish company with some big ideas. They caught Apple’s attention, and couldn’t handle the demands. Now, they’re bankrupt. It is easy to make yourself look big. Just don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Business Tips