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How to File a Wage and Hour Unpaid Overtime Claim

UPDATED: August 5, 2019

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FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) lawsuits are becoming more common every day as the U.S. economy continues to struggle. If your employer has violated the FLSA, you should know what a good wage and hour lawyer can do for you and how much it will cost you.

How Common Are FLSA Wage and Hour Unpaid Overtime Claims?

Very common - and becoming even more so due to the difficult economic environment surrounding many businesses. As employers struggle to control costs, one of the first areas employers seek to cut are employee wages. As employers try to get more labor for less money - they sometimes end up illegally withholding overtime wages or regular wages from employees who are working off the clock.

Claims Typically Affect Many Employees

Employer practices in this area are generally across the board and wage and hour claims known as FLSA collective actions typically involve many employees. These actions are easier to certify than class actions because the initial burden of certifying a conditional collective FLSA class is much easier than satisfying each of the required elements of a class case. An increasing number of firms who handle these types of cases have realized the benefits in time and cost to an FLSA case. On the other hand, in order for these cases to truly be successful, employees must opt-in to the suit; whereas class employees in successful class action cases need not opt in.

Filing a Claim: How an Attorney Can Help

It's important that whomever the employee contacts has experience in handling these types of claims because they involve complicated legal issues. These are not simple, run-of-the-mill cases. In order for someone's rights to be adequately represented, they need to speak with someone who has experience, is very familiar with the FLSA and with the wage and hour laws of the state in which the person is employed. Doing otherwise could risk that person's claim and create bad law for other employees.

How Are Wage and Hour Lawyers Paid?

Wage and hour lawyers are compensated based on the amount of time and expense of the litigation and all fees have to be approved by the Court. Generally, those fees are negotiated and determined separately from the money earmarked for the employees, and the employee is not losing a percentage of their wage loss claim to pay attorneys' fees. Even if the case is not successful, the client is not responsible for any attorneys' fees.

The FLSA statute provides that the defendant (wrong-doer) employer must pay the employee's attorneys' fees. So the employee is entitled to their wages that were unpaid, perhaps a liquidated amount from those wages and then the attorneys' fees are separate.

It's also important to understand that anyone who feels that their employer has misclassified their FLSA exemption status should not worry about up front costs because there generally aren't any.

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