I am salaried, company recently laid off personnel. If I don't work the 55 - 65 hrs per wk I feel I'm placing my job in jeopardy, it will also directly affect about 35 other EE's if I don't work those hours?
Family Law Attorney
I will add to the previous attorney's answer by remarking that many employers seem to believe that if an employee is salaried, they are also exempt (not entitled to overtime). This is not correct. Whether you are exempt is dependent upon your job description, not whether you are paid by the hour or on salary.
You are in a tough spot. If you find that you have been entitled to overtime, but have not been receiving it, you can lodge a complaint with the Dept of Labor and Industries. By law, your employer cannot retaliate against you for exercising your statutory rights in this way. As a practical matter, many of them will.
The best decision for you will rest upon the facts of your case. Are you exempt or are you entitled to overtime? Is your employer simply confused about what the law says or intentionally taking advantage of the situation? How will they respond to correction?
Family Law Attorney
Most WA employers are regulated by Labor & Industries. Your employer likely is regulated by L&I. You can review the information provided by L&I to see if you truly are an employee for whom the employer is exempted from paying overtime. L&I's website is: http://www.lni.wa.gov/main/ForWorkers.asp .
If you have an employment contract with the employer, you can review that contract to see what you and the employer agreed to do. If you are in a union, your union may have a contract with the employer.
In certain jobs (such as truck driving, piloting), the employee must have a minimum number of off-duty hours between shifts.
If the employer is truly exempted from paying you overtime, the only thing you can do likely is negotiate something with your manager or employer. Perhaps more pay. Perhaps paid time off when things settle down.
You should review your specific facts with your attorney to find out your legal options.