When an employee hires an attorney, you can bet that the lawyer will go looking for as many legal claims as possible. And high on the list of possible claims are wage-and-hour matters.
That’s how something as simple as an unemployment compensation consultation can wind up turning into a major lawsuit.
To avoid that fate, make checking for wage-and-hour compliance a part of your regular policies-and-practices review. Ensure your job descriptions are up-to-date. Have any jobs changed so much that they warrant reclassification from exempt to nonexempt status? Do all managers understand they must pay for all overtime, whether approved or not?
Recent case: Nancy Miller worked as a salesperson, servicing accounts at retail outlets throughout the United States. While at work, Miller walked into a swinging door and hurt her head. She filed a workers’ compensation claim.
When Miller returned to work, the company altered her sales territories, resulting in a drop in her sales commissions. Then she was terminated.
She sued, alleging that she had been punished for filing her workers’ comp claim. She also claimedviolations. In addition, she told the court that she had regularly worked more than 62 hours per week while being paid for just 40.
The court dismissed her FMLA and retaliation claims. The court said she hadn’t proven her employer had 50 or more employees or that there was any link between her discharge and workers’ compensation claim. However, it said a jury should decide whether Miller should have received overtime pay. (Miller v. Science Lab, No. 10-60956, SD FL, 2010)