A Belton Texas based manufacturer of heavy duty wire rope used in construction, mining and oil and gas has been ordered to pay over $165,000 to 31 of its workers to compensate them for unpaid back overtime.  While repayment of unpaid overtime wages is the norm in wage and hour cases, it is rather uncommon for criminal penalties to assess against the owners/managers of a business.  In this case, however, due to the repeat and egregious nature of the company’s conduct and labor law violations, criminal charges were pressed against management for which they were sentenced to time served and fined.

This case resulted from two long term investigations that revealed serious violations of both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Texas labor laws – including, failure to pay overtime to employees who worked up to 96 hours per week, keeping a second set of time records to hide overtime hours and demanding kickbacks from workers.

While a somewhat extreme example of blatant wage theft and abuse, this case should send a message to the many workers in Texas who are being unlawfully denied the overtime pay they are legally entitled to.  The message is four-fold:

  1. You need to be informed and aware of your rights under federal and Texas wage and hour law,
  2. You cannot rely on the boss or Human Resources for critical information regarding the laws on overtime pay and if they apply to your job.
  3. There is something that can and should be done when you suspect that your employer is violating the wage payment laws, and
  4. The end result can be a substantial recovery that puts unpaid overtime wages back where they belong – in the worker’s pocket.

In addition to employment law firms like ours that handle overtime claims across the country (on a contingent fee basis), there are other resources available to employees who have concerns and questions about their employer’s overtime pay practices, including the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and the Texas Workforce Commission.  The important thing is that employees take some action when confronted with what they believe are illegal pay schemes, because if they don’t, hard-earned wages continue to be stolen and the clock keeps ticking on the statute of limitations that applies to claims to recover unpaid overtime.

For workers in Texas, there is a 2 year window in which to claim unpaid overtime wages.  Under some circumstances, this can be extended to 3 years, but do not rely on this.  In addition to back overtime, employees are also able to recover attorney’s fees and court costs incurred in their efforts to recoup illegally withheld wages.

If you have any doubts as to your entitlement to overtime, contact the overtime pay experts at The Lore Law Firm for a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL review of your circumstances – because time is money.