An assertion by an employee-plaintiff that his or her employer has failed to pay overtime wages owed to the employee. Within the past several years, a number of high-profile, high-dollar wage and hour claims have been filed on a class action basis, a fact that has vastly increased the dollar amount payable under such lawsuits. Given the magnitude of this exposure, most employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) policies specifically exclude coverage for wage and hour claims.
Some common examples of employment practices that violate the FLSA are as follows:
Unpaid or Underpaid Overtime – What is overtime? Under the FLSA an employee is entitled to make an hourly
wage of 1.5 times (time and a half) his or her normally hourly wage for every hour worked over 40 hours in a 7 day period. If you have been forced to work in excess of 40 hours in a 7 day period and have only received your normal hourly wage, you may be entitled to back pay for those unpaid wages.
Minimum Wage Violations. What is minimum wage? The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Employers
may not attempt to charge employees for anything which brings their hourly wage under $7.25 per hour. Some employers will take steps such as telling employees they are responsible for customers who walk out on their checks, or requiring employees to pay for miscellaneous expenses which should be paid by the employer.
Unpaid Meals and/or Rest Breaks When They Were Never Actually Taken. Employers often require employees to work through lunches and/or breaks and later count that time as unpaid. If your employer either mandates you work through lunches and brakes or is aware that you are working through them, the employee is entitled to be paid for their time.
Turning a Blind Eye. Employers will often provide an unreasonable deadline for the completion of a task while also requiring you clock out at the end of a normal shift. They require work to be finished while turning a blind eye to the reasonable number of hours it takes to complete the project, forcing the employee to work unpaid overtime.
Work Travel. Some employers will attempt to count work related travel time as unpaid while the employee is
traveling. An employee is entitled to be compensated for time spent traveling for work.
Compensatory Time (Comp Time). Employers will illegally offer their employees compensatory time – an hour
off at some future time for every hour worked now – instead of paying the employee overtime pay.
Unpaid Training, Meetings, and Lectures. Employees are entitled to be paid for time spent in company
training, meetings, and lectures.
Unpaid Preliminary and Postliminary Activities. On 9/26/2011, a jury awarded workers from multiple Tyson
Foods, Inc., meat processing facilities reimbursement for uncompensated duties performed before and after their shifts, such as putting on boots, aprons, gloves, whites, ear plugs, and hair nets. Tyson required workers to perform these duties prior to clocking in and beginning their shift. If an employee has to work before or after their shift, they are entitled to be paid for it.
Improper Calculation of Overtime Pay. Employers have also been found to improperly calculate over time pay. Simply put, if the calculation is off by a dollar, quarter, nickel or otherwise, it is a clear violation of Federal Law. Employers are able to save millions of dollars each year through unsuspecting employees who have not taken the time to check their employer’s overtime calculation, simply thinking it must be close enough.