Employers are responsible for keeping track of the hours and minutes their employees work.
If they can’t show their records are accurate, an underpaid overtime case can get costly. That’s because—absent reliable employer records—courts will let employees fill in the timekeeping details.
Make sure your records are easily explained and tamper-proof—don’t let supervisors alter records without approval. Don’t rely solely on schedules to re-create hours worked. Instead, adopt a good time-tracking system that’s appropriate for your work environment.
Recent case: Chris, who worked for UPS as a driver, sued the company, alleging it had altered his electronic time records to credit him with less overtime than he was entitled to. He came up with his own time records and asked the court to substitute them for what UPS said was correct.
The court said that the general rule is that if an employer’s records are suspect, then the employee’s reasonable assessment can be used.
Fortunately for UPS, it won the case based on another premise—namely that if the employee received more than time-and-a-half for the overtime hours he claims, then the records don’t matter anyway. Because UPS paid a far more generous rate than the Fair Labor Standards Act requires, that covered everything due, even if its records were wrong and the employee’s were correct. (Buckner v. United Parcel Service, No. 5:09-CV-411, ED NC, 2012)
Final note: The U.S. Department of Labor is so interested in accurate overtime that it offers an app for the iPhone and the iPod Touch that employees can use to calculate overtime pay. Its adoption is sure to spur additional litigation and is a good reason to make sure your records are dead-on accurate.
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