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Ban unwritten rules forcing off-the-clock work

by on
in Human Resources,Overtime Labor Laws

When nonexempt hourly em­­ployees work beyond their scheduled shifts, they must be paid whether their employer authorized the extra work or not. And if the extra work puts them over 40 hours per week, they are also due overtime premium pay at the rate of time-and-a-half.

Most employers think that if they just tell employees not to work more hours than their regular schedules call for, that’s the end of it. They put together a policy prohibiting off-the-clock work, put it in the handbook and figure, “Hey, problem solved.”

But that may not be the case. Employees can and do sue if they work unpaid overtime.

And if more than one employee has put in extra hours, they just may gang up and file a collective action, bringing in all other similarly situated employees.

Recent case: Kenneth and six other sales representatives at a cellular service retail store sued their employer.

They claimed they had worked uncompensated hours by attending meetings and training sessions, placing customer service calls and making sales-related calls and visits outside of scheduled hours.

The company did have official policies against unpaid overtime work, but the workers claimed widespread unwritten policies required employees to perform work-related activities outside scheduled hours without compensation.

The employer also argued that it had a timecard sys­­tem that recorded all work time. But the employees claimed that the on­­line “Timecard Entry Sys­­tem” did not allow workers to input the extra time they worked.

The court said the employees had enough evidence for their lawsuit to move forward.

The employer will have to prove that the employees didn’t do the work—a tough task under the best of circumstances. (Lindsay, et al., v. Clear Wire­­less, et al., No. 13-834, DC MN, 2014)

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