Wage and Hour Violations on the Rise: What Are My Rights?
It's no secret that the current economic downturn has affected many Americans - including employers who are looking for ways to save money. Unfortunately, some employers are violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the process. So, what are your rights and can you fight back without losing your job?
How the Economy Is Affecting FLSA Lawsuits
Some employers are intentionally withholding wages hoping that they have the goodwill of their employees and that those employees won't call them on the carpet because they're afraid of losing their jobs. It's understandable that employees are worried about losing their jobs in this economy.
More and more employers are being investigated by the Department of Labor and an increasing amount of headline news stories involving big, well-known companies who have withheld wages for breaks, off the clock work time and many others - simply to try and save money. However, it is against the law.
Lawsuits Filed for Off-the-Clock Work & Unpaid On-call Time
Aside from FLSA employee misclassification, employees are also filing wage and hour lawsuits for off-the-clock time work and on call time not being paid:
- Off the clock work: This is very different than unpaid overtime wages. In this situation, it is time that an employee spends getting ready for work such as putting on or taking off a uniform and not being paid for that time or for time spent doing work that's not specifically requested by the employer - but is done with the employer's knowledge - for which the employee is not paid.
- On call time: There are also cases where an employee needs to be on call or be in a certain location. However, because they're not "working" as defined by their employer, they're also not being paid for work time for which they are entitled under the FLSA. Specific examples include being at a particular location and not being able to go anywhere else, being on call and working, bringing work home, traveling from one worksite to another, having to re-do work, working after hours, waiting for work or any other off-the-clock work time.
Employees Can Fight Back
Employees should know that they have a statutory right to these unpaid wages, whether it be actual off-the-clock hours or overtime wages (time and a half) for which they are entitled. In addition, employees who file an FLSA lawsuit are protected from being retaliated against by their employer. If you think that your employer may have violated your FLSA rights, contact an experienced wage and hour lawyer right away to talk about your situation and find out what types of compensation may be available to you.