what are the laws on encouragement to work off the clock for free

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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what are the laws on encouragement to work off the clock for free

My stepson is a freight manager for a dollar store. He has psoriatic arthritis. The store manager calls him Cletous because has a limp do to his affliction. The district manager who called him and hired him tells him not enough is getting done and is also told that he cannot have any help stocking but he is not allowed more work hours, yet he has to get all the stock out. My stepson wants to do a good job, so he is constantly working off the clock in order to please these people, sometimes 3 and 4 hours a day, many days a week. I try to tell him that what is going on is not legal. He has given his 2 week notice because he just can’t handle the stress anymore, yet he continues to work extra time for free because he wants his bosses to miss him when he is gone. He still wants their approval.

Asked on July 8, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Assuming that your stepson is an hourly employee  (paid based on the number of hours worked) rather than paid an annual salary (pay does not vary with hours worked), then what you describe is not legal. The law (e.g. the federal Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA) is very clear that an hourly employee must be paid for all time worked; there is no such thing as legal "off-the-clock" work for hourly employees. Your stepson may have a legal case for unpaid wages (and overtime, if he has not been paid at an overtime rate for all hours worked past 40 in a week).
In addition, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against or harass an employee due to a disability, like a limp due to psoriatic arthritis. Furthermore, a business must make a "reasonable accommodation" for an employee's disability, and it's possible that in this situation, the failure to give him more time to stock, or help, or the comment "Cletous," may constitute illegal discrimination or harassment, or a failure to provide a reasonable accommodation.
Your stepson should consult with an employment law attorney regarding the potential claims that he has.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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