You should be compensated for every hour that you work. If not, you may be the victim of wage theft. Many workers are claiming that their employers have “stolen” a portion of their wages – usually due to failing to pay overtime. These claims are becoming more prevalent. If you believe that you are not being paid for every hour of overtime that you work, contact one of our qualified wage and hour attorneys.
Wage and Hour Suits Rising
Wage and hour lawsuits are on the rise. Wage and hour claims are filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or similar state laws. The FLSA is a federal law that establishes minimum wage and overtime pay standards. This law covers nonexempt employees. A nonexempt employee is an employee whose job does not fall under one of the several exemptions from overtime pay. Almost all hourly employees are nonexempt, as are most day rate or piece rate employees. If your job is not paid overtime, your employer is likely classifying you as exempt. Employers often get this wrong and misclassify jobs as exempt when they should be nonexempt. While you can contact your human resources department and ask about your employment classification, do not rely entirely on what they tell you. Rarely will employers admit that your job is improperly classified, as this would mean they have been cheating you out of overtime pay.
Wage and hour lawsuits are typically the result of wage theft, which occurs when an employer does not compensate its workers properly for all hours worked. The Federal Judicial Center found that over 8,000 wage and hour lawsuits were filed from 2012 to 2013, which is about 5% higher than previous years.
Why the Rise in Wage and Hour Lawsuits?
The following may be reasons for this sudden increase in wage and hour lawsuits:
- Employers have been aggressively trying to cut costs and labor costs are one of their largest expenses. The FLSA uses language that is somewhat technical and can be difficult to interpret.
- State laws and federal laws that govern wage and hour requirements are not always easily reconciled with each other.
- An increase in awareness about employee rights has caused an increase in lawsuits.
The New York Times recently published an article titled “More Workers Are Claiming ‘Wage Theft’.” This article detailed the plight of warehouse workers who work over 70 hours a week without being properly compensated. This news story, and many like it, have increased worker awareness about their rights to receive payment for all hours worked.
In California, a court of appeals ruled that FedEx committed wage theft by misclassifying its workers as independent contractors rather than employees. An employee is guaranteed certain protections under the FLSA and state labor laws that an independent contractor is not.
Workers have sued many large companies such as McDonalds and Wal-Mart under the FLSA. Some of the aforementioned lawsuits claim that workers were not compensated properly for all hours worked. Though many business interests groups claim that some of these lawsuits are a ploy to advance the mission of raising the minimum wage, many workers claim they are simply tired of losing money they worked hard for.
If you have questions regarding wage laws, contact one of our experienced wage and hour attorneys today. At Lore Law Firm, we have extensive experience representing employees in various wage and hour disputes, and we are prepared to help you in any way possible. Call one of our attorneys today at 866-559-0400 to schedule a free confidential consultation.