Some recent overtime lawsuits are setting precedent as employees are finding out more about their legal rights regarding overtime pay. This is resulting in more overtime lawsuits being filed each year.
In a recent suit against the City of Chicago, a police officer alleges he was denied overtime pay for the time he spent during off hours on his blackberry tending to work related issues. The Northern District of Illinois will decide later in the year whether or not such time constitutes “hours worked”.
If this suit is successful, there will have to be additions made to how employers track this sort of overtime, further defining what work is and no doubt, other cases of this nature will be filed as the word gets out.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal standard to which all employers are to calculate overtime pay. It defines who is “exempt” from receiving overtime, and allows for 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 40 hours per week for those workers who are “non-exempt”.
Employers are frequently misclassifying employees as “exempt” to avoid FLSA overtime payments, and the ones who are getting caught are being held legally responsible for the wage payments owed to their employees.
In the recent case of Willix et at v. HealthFirst, Inc. et al, HMO outside sales and marketing representatives sued HealthFirst, alleging the company misclassified the employees as exempt under the outside salespeople exemption set forth under national and state overtime laws.
The marketing reps were able to prove that they did not meet exemption requirements on the premise that they do not “make sales” or “obtain contracts”. Rather, the employees spent well over 40 hours a week signing up Medicaid-eligible people for free health insurance programs. HealthFirst settled, paying out 7.7 million dollars in back wages, fines, and attorney fees.
Overtime law is complex and can vary from state to state, and these laws are always changing. Employers are making big mistakes which lead to costly overtime lawsuits. If you feel you have been denied overtime pay for any reason, contact an overtime lawyer who knows these laws and will fight for the overtime pay you deserve.