Sometimes, supervisors get the wrong message from upper-level managers struggling to keep a business afloat during difficult times.
Faced with declining revenues and staff shortages that mean more overtime hours, they may be tempted to adjust time records to reflect fewer hours worked. But this is a dangerous tactic.
Underpaid employees may decide it’s time to find a lawyer willing to file an overtime class-action lawsuit.
If the violations are “willful,” the back pay award may go back three full years.
Plus, penalties equal to the amount underpaid will be added to each employee’s total tab.
Recent case: When Vinicio went to work for a restaurant chain and the owners learned he spoke English, he was assigned a role that included dishwashing, serving food, ordering supplies and managing therecords.
He was allegedly told to cut reported worked hours to no more than 35 per week per employee even if those employees worked as many as 70 hours during the pay period. This meant paychecks did not accurately reflect actual hours worked.
He and other employees sued, alleging overtime violations. The court reviewed the allegations, and approved collective-action status, ordering every employee who had worked for the restaurants in the past three years to be notified of the lawsuit and given the option of participating. (Ortiz-Alvarado, et al., v. Gomez, et al., No. 14-209, DC MN, 2014)