Employment law attorney Andrea Downing says you will often see the term “liquidated damages” appear in clauses and sections of employment contracts. Liquidated damages are the amount you are owed in response to a breach of contract. “If you take a case of liquidated damages for unpaid overtime to court you should be awarded ‘double damages’ — which is what you are owed for the time that you worked plus an equal amount,” Downing explains.

“Sometimes it makes sense to think of liquidated damages as a statutory punishment to the employer for not doing things correctly in the first place,” says Downing. “With that being said, they’re not necessarily punitive damages intended to punish. Rather, they are fixed damages tied to the amount you are owed.”