Wage claims keep rising. According to the Seyfarth Shaw law firm, there were 7,764 federal lawsuits alleging the failure to pay overtime and other wages in the year ended March 31, 2013 –a record high, up 10% from the previous year.
An article in Corporate Counsel magazine discussing the Seyfarth Shaw report, state that these claims usually fall into one of three categories: 1) salaried employees who believe they are owed overtime pay; 2) hourly workers who contend that they weren’t paid for all hours worked, and 3) restaurant workers who claim that they received no additional pay under the FLSA “tip credit” provision. According to Seyfarth Shaw partner Noah Finkel, DOL investigators have been focusing on hospitals and restaurants. Finkel points out that although these cases have been traditionally filed in California and Florida, states such as New York, Missouri, Georgia, and others are experiencing more and more claims. He and other attorneys suggest that you conduct an audit or assessment of your wage and hour practices.
Here are some additional recommendations:
- If you’re uncertain whether employees are exempt or nonexempt, treat them as if they were nonexempt. They can end up getting paid the same amount at the end of the year as long as you calculate the appropriate wage rate when including overtime payments.
- Use a tool such as the Employee Compliance Survey to find out if there are in fact any concerns about wage payment and follow-up on any “yes” answers.
- Consider the hours worked by employees both before and after work. For example, in a recent case, a warehouse that required all its employees to go through a security search before they left had been required to pay wages for employees going through that screening.
- Know the rest and meal period requirements in your state. Because federal law doesn’t govern this, make sure you that you know your state provisions Check out your BNA State Law Summary on HR That Works.