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Wage-and-hour violations and the lessons learned

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Overtime violations were on the rise this month. Here's a rundown of a few recent cases.

A Houston manufacturing company has paid $1.6 million in back wages to 1,751 employees after a federal investigation revealed the company violated the federal overtime labor law.

According to Elizabeth Todd, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor in Dallas, IFCO Systems North America, which manufactures and repairs reusable plastic containers and wooden pallets, also paid $963,050 in civil penalties assessed by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division.

The federal investigation found that IFCO Systems failed to pay its workers time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 in a workweek in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and that the company failed to maintain employee records.

To see if you’re walking into an FLSA trap, test your knowledge at next week's webinar: Wage-ing War: The 10 FLSA Traps You Must Recognize and Avoid.

A federal jury in Newark has awarded $2.5 million in damages to 343 sales managers employed by office superstore Staples.

The court determined the retailer misclassified the managers as exempt from the FLSA when they were not. As a result, the managers were not paid overtime.

Staples maintained it carefully examined the situation to comply with the FLSA, but the jury disagreed. It ruled Staples willfully violated the overtime labor law.

The court has not yet decided whether it will exercise its option to double the damages, as it can in cases involving willful violation of the law.

Don’t fall into an FLSA trap! You may be needlessly overpaying employees. Worse yet, you may be denying them fair pay while you “court” a lawsuit. You’ll know your rights and theirs when you join us June 4 for this compelling and instructive event. Wage-ing War: The 10 FLSA Traps You Must Recognize and Avoid

Even the feds can’t keep overtime law straight.

An arbitrator has ruled that the EEOC—the federal agency charged with enforcing the nation’s workplace discrimination laws—willfully violated the FLSA by forcing employees to take comp time instead of overtime pay when they worked more than 40 hours a week.

In a March 23 decision, Arbitrator Steven M. Wolfe wrote that the practice “demonstrates action that went beyond mere negligence.” The EEOC will be liable for back pay, plus liquidated damages that so far haven’t been determined.

According to Gabrielle Martin, president of the National Council of EEOC Locals, which represents EEOC employees, “This overtime ruling against the EEOC is vindication that the ‘model employer’ should not be exploiting the dedication of its hard-working employees.”

Final note: Expect more wage-and-hour lawsuits during this extended economic downturn.

Can you answer these questions on FLSA regulations:
  • When an hourly employee travels across town or across the country, which hours are paid? What if a delayed flight causes an unexpected overnight stay?
  • If employees are required to change into a uniform at work, must you pay them for that time? If so, how s-l-o-w-l-y can they change clothes while the clock is running?
  • No matter how many times you tell employees to punch in and out, they occasionally forget. What recourse do you have with repeat offenders?
  • Your exempt employee went on vacation but occasionally checked e-mail from the beach. Can that later be used as evidence in an overtime case?
  • A management trainee works alongside hourly workers for his first week. Does that put his FLSA exemption in jeopardy?
Learn these and many more FLSA answers by listening in to our popular webinar: Wage-ing War: The 10 FLSA Traps You Must Recognize and Avoid

 

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