News Article Reports Record Number of Wage and Hour Lawsuits

By | July 27th, 2012 | General

Yesterday there was an article by NBC News reporting that the number of lawsuits filed this year to date by employees claiming to have been underpaid has surpassed the total filed in any previous year. There have been 7,064 lawsuits filed this year to date, when the total in 2011 (the previous record) was only 7.006. The number of lawsuits of this type filed are double that of ten to twelve years ago.

In addition to lawsuits filed by employees, the Department of Labor has collected record amounts of money on behalf of employees who were underpaid.

These statistics are consistent with what we at the Employers Legal Resource Center are seeing in Oklahoma. We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of wage and hour audits being conducted by the Department of Labor. Because there has been an increase in the number of investigators by the Department of Labor, the economy is expected to stay weak, and because the antiquated wage and hour laws do not comport with characteristics of workers in this century, we expect to see these numbers continue to rise.

The Department of Labor estimates 70% or more of employers do not properly pay their employees. The most common errors are (1) failure to account for all off-the-clock work (are you letting your employees access work-email during non-work hours or allowing them to answer the phone during their unpaid lunch break?); (2) misclassifying individuals as independent contractors when they really act like, look like, smell like, and sound like employees; (3) misclassifying an employee as exempt from overtime when they are not (hint: just adding manager or supervisor to their title doesn’t cut the mustard); and (4) taking improper deductions from the salary of an otherwise exempt employee (deducting from the employee’s pay for errors in the till, for example).

This is an issue employers should really take to heart. Failing to pay your workers properly can end up being one of the costliest employment mistakes — and your EPLI insurance won’t pick up the tab (or the costs of your legal defense, either). Employers should be proactive and have their wage and hour practices reviewed by an experienced wage and hour attorney. Contact us at the Employers Legal Resource Center for a quote today. (405) 702-9797.

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