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Set equitable system for assigning overtime–it’s an essential defense against bias claims

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Do you have a system that allows all employees in the same job category an equal shot at earning overtime pay? If not, consider setting up a fair system for distributing that extra work. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing a discrimination lawsuit.

Plenty of bias suits involve overtime disputes. If the employee can show that others outside his protected class received more overtime opportunities, he may have a viable discrimination case.

But employers that are able to prove that everyone got an equal chance to earn overtime pay will likely get the case quickly tossed out of court.

Recent case: Johnny Newbill, who is black, worked for a gas company. He sued, claiming his employer didn’t let him work much overtime because of his race and that white co-workers got more OT hours.

But it turned out that wasn’t true. The utility company showed the court that Newbill got just as many overtime hours as his white co-workers, and that overtime helped him earn considerably more each year than he had before. The court concluded Newbill’s overtime had accelerated just as fast as everyone else’s. It dismissed his case. (Newbill v. Washington Gas Light, No. 09-1500, 4th Cir., 2010)

Final note: Everyone you employ belongs to a protected class. The only way to ensure against bias lawsuits concerning pay is to adopt fair and impartial compensation policies that put everyone on even footing.

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