As Warren Zevon (and a top Sprint exec) have said…It’s going to take “lawyers, guns, and money” to get out of this. Lots of lawyers, hired guns, and $34,150,000, along with 10 years of litigation, has indeed got Sprint out of this case. Last month, a court in Kansas granted final approval of settlements involving allegations of unpaid commissions by Sprint’s sales representatives. The last step will be getting the back pay into the pockets of the thousands of employees covered by these class action wage cases.

It’s a Bigger Deal Than You Think

This is another one of those cases that really makes clear how much is at stake when employers engage in accounting and/or payroll practices that result in workers getting paid less than they should. Just like individuals thinking their one vote doesn’t really count, employees often think the amount they are being shorted doesn’t really amount to much…until you look at the big picture and do the math. Both can and do matter. Workers routinely underestimate how much they are owed in back pay, particularly when there is back overtime pay involved, which is subject to being doubled. Our overtime pay calculator makes it a bit easier to quantify.

When hundreds or thousands of employees are impacted by wage payment errors, the costs to workers are huge…as are the ill-gotten benefits to employers. Nothing, however, happens to correct the situation unless and until one or more employees do something about it. When internal questions about pay practices are ignored or dismissed without good answers, employees must look elsewhere for answers and advice, including unions, the department of labor, and private employment law attorneys who handle wage claims (on a contingent fee basis).

Trust, But Verify…That It’s Accurate

While this case involved allegations that commissions were not tracked and calculated accurately following Sprint’s merger with Nextel, many wage class actions involve allegations that overtime pay has not been tracked or calculated accurately – particularly where workers receive additional compensation such as commissions, shift differentials, and bonuses.
Failing to include all types of payments when determining the overtime pay rate for employees happens far more often that workers realize – resulting in millions of dollars of overtime pay being lost.

The General Rule and What to Do

Workers should remember that the general rule under both federal and state labor laws on overtime is that almost all types of compensation must be included in the regular rate, which is then multiplied by 1.5 to calculate the rate for each overtime hour.

If you are not being paid according to your employment contract and/or certain types of compensation are not being counted towards your regular rate on which overtime pay is based, or if you are not sure, you should ask questions. If you still are not certain that your pay is being calculated correctly, contact us for a free and confidential review of your specific situation, and to see how much you may be owed in back pay.