Recently, the United States has seen more instances of wage & hour class action lawsuits than ever before, with justice departments throughout the country filing charges against the numerous employers who were found to have short-changed their employees when it comes to wages, compensation, and overtime.
Employers have a responsibility to their staff to provide the correct payment for the correct number of hours worked, as well as prompt payment of wages, and can suffer serious legal consequences if they neglect to pay all of the wages that are due to an employee that quits, or is fired.
The wrong calculations
Most of the time, the majority of wage and hour class action lawsuits arise as a result of miscalculated overtime pay, although a simple device such as an employee time-clock is all that may need to be used to prevent legal cases from coming to trial. Regardless of the reasons behind the incorrect pay, employers who fail to pay their staff workers for the work that they have completed, overtime, or in regular hours worked, they can find themselves on the wrong end of a lawsuit. If you feel that you may be a victim of wage-theft in this manner, then you could benefit from speaking to an expert attorney about what your rights are, and how you may be able to obtain justice.
The issues that most commonly lead to wage & hour problems
If you, or one of your co-workers has been forced to work for longer hours off-the-clock, or your employer has accidentally classified you as an exempt employee, then you may be legally entitled to compensation for the unpaid overtime you have worked.
There are many misconceptions and problems that can arise when it comes to employers dealing with their employees’ wages and overtime, and because wage & hour law is violated so frequently, it is fast becoming one of the most common forms of lawsuit. According to the Department of Labor in the US, these are some of the most common violations made by employers in regards to wage and time:
- Accidentally applying the ‘exempt’ status to an employee who is non-exempt, or ‘salaried’.
- Employing underage individuals to perform prohibited duties or work beyond the permitted hours.
- Neglecting to pay employees for all of their hours of permitted work, including the time that is taken to clean up, complete paperwork, take inventory, and other actions that go beyond the normal work schedule.
- Neglecting to pay overtime wages to salaried employees.
- Granting employees’ compensatory time off instead of providing the overtime pay they are owed.
- Failing to maintain records regarding non-exempt, piece rate, or salaried employees.
- Illegal kickbacks or deductions for uniforms, shortages, errors, or other issues which might reduce the pay of an employee to beneath the minimum wage.
- Not paying minimum wage and overtime to employees that are part-time.
- Not recording all of the hours an employee actually works, including time spent working either after or before a shift.
- Not compensating employees for lunch breaks when that employee has not been completely relieved of all of his or her duties during the meal time.
- Shortening the hours of an individual’s work due to ‘down time’, or weather based delays.
- Failing to combine the hours that an employee works for overtime purposes in more than one job classification for the same employer within an individual week.
- Neglecting to pay for overtime hours on the basis of a work week when staff members are commonly paid on a bi-weekly or semi-monthly contract.