Wage and Hour complaints have been on the rise, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Wage and hour litigation is the fastest growing type of class action, and should be a major concern for employers. It’s easy to understand the rise in wage and hour litigation, given the complexity of state and federal laws regarding classification of workers, the weak economy resulting in a large number of laid off employees, and the ease of winning class action certification.
The FLSA guarantees employees be paid time and a half for all hours worked over a 40 hour work week, unless they are salaried and fall into one of the exempt categories of: professional, executive, or administrative. A disgruntled employee, or former employee, can easily seek legal help by telling their counsel how they were paid, and their legal counsel can then seek class action by suing on behalf of every employee in on the payroll system. While one employee may only be entitled to a few minutes or hours of pay, by filing a class action on behalf of all employees, the employer may then be facing much heavier damages.
Added to the rise in wage and hour complaints are the number of hours that employees are spending on email or smartphones; making it harder for employers to track the number of hours employees are actually working. Don’t be fooled though, the employees are aware of the time that they are spending on work tasks, even while out of the office, and expect to be compensated for such. There is even a new app from the DOL that allows employees to rack their own hours, and determine the wages that they are owed.
With the complexity of the FLSA, it is hard for employers to be in full compliance and easy for an employer to inadvertently break the rules. Employers can minimize the chances of litigation by taking steps that include periodic audits to determine whether employees are being classified properly and careful record keeping. Employers want to comply, but don’t often know all the specific rules, and therefore it can be difficult. One step that employers can take if they are interested in saving money and avoiding the courthouse, is to partner with HR Strategies.