Employees who make complaints to their supervisors regarding their employer’s failure to pay overtime compensation are generally protected from retaliation, including termination. Federal law makes it illegal to discharge or discriminate against an employee because the employee has filed a complaint, whether verbal or written, about overtime pay. However, not all complaints will create protection under the overtime law.

In order for a complaint to be protected activity, it must be clear and detailed enough for a reasonable employer to understand that the employee is asserting his or her rights to overtime pay guaranteed by law. Although the employee does not have to mention the federal overtime law by name while making a complaint, the employee should make reference to the potential illegality of the employer’s pay practices.

Once the employer has “fair notice” of the employee’s complaint, it is a violation of law if the employee is then suspended, demoted, or terminated for bringing attention to the unlawful pay practice. If you have experienced a job loss or a change in job conditions after voicing complaints about overtime pay, you should contact an attorney to see if your rights have been violated.