Wage and Hour lawsuits are rising according to Kiplinger.com. Due to the faltering economy, workers who have been let go are looking to the courts to seek monetary damages. Usually the lawsuits are based upon allegations that hourly workers are not paid overtime. This is a violation of the Federal Labor Standards Act.
According to the article, New York was one of the states that has seen the most significant growth in Wage and Hour lawsuits. Among the reasons why there have been an increase in litigation is because these cases are relatively easy to win. The proof is in the numbers. If you are a worker, you simply have to prove that you worked overtime. This is usually evidenced by a time sheet. Large employers also keep records of employees hours. If the workers paycheck doesn’t match the hours worked, the worker wins. Awards can include two to three years of back pay plus benefits.
The Obama administration is also placing a greater emphasis on regulation and enforcement. As a result, more workers are being notified of Wage and Hour violations.
Here are a few ways that a business can protect itself from Wage and Hour lawsuits:
- All worker classifications should be reviewed. Make sure that you are properly classifying any independent contractors.
- Review all worker wages. Sit down with an attorney to see if you workers are being properly paid. This could save your company millions of dollars. Wal-Mart settled a $65 million dollar claim last year.
- Speak to and train all of your supervisors. Managers often demand workera to work overtime without knowing its implications.
- If there is a problem don’t ignore it. If an employee complains that she has not been paid overtime, take it seriously. Wage lawsuits can be just as costly as sexual harassment litigation.
- Make sure your employee handbook is up to date and addressses wage and hour issues.
- Be aware of the difference between employees who are paid salaries and hourly workers.
Another tip, as Rush Nugut points out is that a business should consider hiring a lawyer during the auditing process as to keep the attorney-client privledge.
If you have any question regarding Wage and Hour Lawsuits, whether you are an employer or employee, contact the Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson at 212-233-0666.