Wage/hour Disputes May Rise
A new wage tracking app has been released by the Department of Labor that allows hourly employees to record hours, breaks, and overtime pay. DOL-Timesheet is intended to empower workers to ensure that they’re getting paid correctly by their employer. The data gathered through this app could be used as evidence in wage and hour compliance cases, and may spark even more employees to file these type of suits.
The app, which is currently only available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, is part of a larger push to better enforce the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Wage and hour suits under FLSA are already on the rise, with 6,800 cases filed in 2010 (a 700 case increase over 2009).
Wage theft is especially a concern in construction, manufacturing, food service, and hospitality industries, where labor is more readily available and where employees may fear they’ll be replaced if they speak up with complaints. All companies should obviously be making a good faith effort to comply with all provisions of the FLSA, but the increased scrutiny from the Department of Labor makes it wise to re-examine compliance in this area.
The most common sources of wage disputes include:
- Classifying staff as “independent contractors” when they are really employees
- Misclassifying non-exempt employees as exempt from overtime pay
- Failure to compensate non-exempt employees for all hours worked
- Not paying “time and a half” to non-exempt employees for hours worked over 40 in any given work week.
If any of these violations raise red flags for you, take steps now to get your company into compliance with the FLSA, and protect your company with employment practices liability insurance (EPLI). Losing a wage and hour suit comes with significant financial penalties, including back pay for up to 3 years for all employees affected, damages, and plaintiff attorney fees.