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Important Unpaid Overtime Pay Alert!
It’s incredibly unfair: you work hard at your job and expect to get paid what you were promised. Yet, millions of Americans are losing billions of dollars because of wage theft. In fact, workers just like you are being robbed of an estimated $56 million a week in wages. The theft is so prominent across the country that new federal regulations had to be developed to help protect middle-class and low wage workers from further abuse. These regulations are effective as of December 1, 2016.
Being paid less than the federal minimum wage, not being paid overtime, and being classifieds as an independent contractor are the three most common ways employees across the country lose money and benefits. If you suspect that your employer is withholding overtime pay, violating minimum wage requirements, or is forcing you to work off the clock, this guide will help you understand the laws that are designed to protect you and how you can use the law to recover the money you are owed.
Important Warning Video
What is FLSA?
The Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines federal rules for the national minimum wage, eligibility for overtime pay, child labor standards, and record keeping for part-time and full-time workers at private companies and in the State, Federal, and local governments. The FLSA has been amended to stop employers from stealing their worker’s wages and benefits.
Who Are the Most Common Wage Theft Victims?
Low-wage workers are the most common targets of wage theft, and this type of stealing occurs across many industries including –
|Company||Wage & Overtime Verdict/Settlement Details|
|Cathedral Energy Services LTD||Settled two overtime lawsuits for up to $3.4 million over allegations the company failed to pay MWD and DD operators overtime wages and paid other operators incorrect overtime wages.|
|Force Corp and AB Construction Group Inc.||Settled with the Department of Labor for $2.4 million over allegations that the firms misclassified the majority of their employees as independent contractors to avoid having to pay overtime.|
|Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Synthes||Settled outside sale rep class action lawsuit for $5 million after allegations the company illegally deducted wages and failed to cover business expenses.|
|Fox Searchlight Pictures Inc.||Agreed to $276,600 settlement for more than 600 interns who claimed they should have been paid for film projects including “Black Swan”.|
|Keys Productions||Reached $1.2 million settlement with an estimated 122 exotic dancers over labor law violations that include being forced to tip other club employees and refusing to pay strippers though they had to follow employee rules.|
|William Morris Endeavor and IMG||Settled a wage and overtime suit for $560,000 to resolve allegations that the New York Fashion Week producers failed to pay overtime wages to their “House Crew” for working more than 100 hours a week in preparation for the bi-annual fashion events.|
|FedEx||Paid $228 million to settle a class action brought by more than 2,000 Ground and Home Delivery drivers alleging the company mislabeled them as independent contractors.|
The Department of Labor reports that of the thousands of investigations conducted over the past nine years, it found wage and hour violations in 79 percent of agency-initiated investigations amounting to an average of $8,900 in wage violations. This is a 21 percent increase in the number of violations and the amount of back wages owed from 2009.
The Most Common Types of Wage Theft
The most common types of wage theft in the U.S. include –
- Not paying overtime wages at time-and-a-half for hours worked beyond 40 hours per week
- Forcing employees to work off the clock and perform duties that they aren’t paid for
- Not paying employees at least the federal minimum wage for all work
- Misclassifying workers as independent contractors when they would be considered employees under the law
- Tip pooling or tip sharing with other employees who are paid a wage or requiring tipped employees to contribute more than 15 percent of earned tips
- Forcing employees to work through meal and rest breaks
- Not paying employees for time spent donning and doffing protective gear
More than half of the violation cases that were investigated had multiple allegations, such as where failing to pay overtime causes the worker to fall below minimum wage. According to the National Economic Research Associates, Inc., of the cases that were investigated by the Department of Labor and resulted in back wages being paid, almost 65 percent were overtime violations, about 25 percent were overtime and wage violations, and 10 percent were minimum wage violations only.
Wage and Overtime Verdicts and Settlements
Wage and hour lawsuits continue to grow in number across the country, up nearly 8 percent from 2014, and legal experts agree that FLSA lawsuit will jump in 2016 and 2017 as workers become familiar with the new labor standards. Some of the most recent wage and overtime verdicts and settlements include –
- Cathedral Energy Services LTD settled two overtime lawsuits for up to $3.4 million over allegations the company failed to pay MWD and DD operators overtime wages and paid other operators incorrect overtime wages.
- Force Corp and AB Construction Group Inc., settled with the Department of Labor for $2.4 million over allegations that the firms misclassified the majority of their employees as independent contractors to avoid having to pay overtime.
- Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Synthes settles outside sale rep class action lawsuit for $5 million after allegations the company illegally deducted wages and failed to cover business expenses.
- Fox Searchlight Pictures Inc. agrees to $276,600 settlement for more than 600 interns who claimed they should have been paid for film projects including “Black Swan.
- Keys Productions reaches $1.2 million settlement with an estimated 122 exotic dancers over labor law violations that include being forced to tip other club employees and refusing to pay strippers though they had to follow employee rules.
- William Morris Endeavor and IMG settled a wage and overtime suit for $560,000 to resolve allegations that the New York Fashion Week producers failed to pay overtime wages to their “House Crew” for working more than 100 hours a week in preparation for the bi-annual fashion events.
- FedEx pays $228 million to settle a class action brought by more than 2,000 Ground and Home Delivery drivers alleging the company mislabeled them as independent contractors.
Is Every Worker Covered under the FLSA?
While not every worker is protected under the FLSA, new regulations established for December 1, 2016 greatly expand who is covered under the law. In fact, the Department of Labor more than doubled the salary threshold, so some 4.2 million more executives, professionals, and administrative personnel are protected by wage and overtime laws.
Whereas the salary cap for the “white collar” employee was $23,660 annually (or $455 per week), the threshold now includes salaried workers who make at least $47,476 annually or $913 per week. This increase will allow more workers to receive overtime pay.
An employee is either covered by the protections of the FLSA or exempt from coverage. To be exempt, you must:
- Earn at least $47,476 annually or $913 per week, and
- Be paid a salary that does not fluctuate with hours worked, and
- Be correctly classified as a:
- Professional worker because you perform work that requires an advanced knowledge or specialized skill, or
- Executive because your role is the management of others, including hiring and firing, or
- Administrative personnel because you are in a non-manual role and your work is tied to the general operations of the business
If you do not meet each of these conditions, then you are probably “non-exempt” from FLSA protections. As a non-exempt employee, even if you are salaried, you may be eligible for overtime pay.
How Can You Get Your Money Back?
If your employer violated the FLSA, you can file a complaint with the Department of Labor or file a lawsuit against your employer to recover the wages that were stolen from you. Both private attorneys and the Department of Labor and state governments have recovered millions in back pay for employees who have been taken advantage of by their employers.
Private attorneys recovered more in wage and hour lawsuits than the U.S. Department of Justice, 44 state departments of labor, and 45 state attorneys general. In fact, attorneys recovered $467 million in wage and overtime lawsuits, more than the DOJ and 45 states combined. Also, attorneys are generally able to recover money for their clients faster and in larger amounts than the government.
If you are being denied overtime pay, or you believe you have been misclassified, or you are required to work off-the-clock, we can help you recover the money that has been stolen from you. In fact, under federal laws, victims of wage theft may be able to recover double their unpaid wages or up to six years of unpaid overtime.
Our firm has spent decades advocating for the rights of workers across the United States and we remain dedicated in our fight against employers who violate the law and steal from their employees. Our attorneys have helped recover millions of dollars of stolen wages and overtime pay for thousands of hard working people just like you all across the country. We want to help you too. Contact us now for a free, no obligation case evaluation