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Worker underreports hours? You still owe OT

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in Human Resources,Overtime Labor Laws

Do you have clear policies stating that employees can’t work off the clock, must record all hours worked and must report to HR any supervisor who demands early clock-outs? Good! However, that doesn’t mean you’re immune to a wage-and-hour lawsuit.

If you know or should have known that an employee is working without being paid, you owe the money—even if the employee ignored your rules.

Recent case: Santonias worked for TitleMax in Jonesboro, Ga. He often worked more than 40 hours per week.

Santonias knew the company had written pay policies that required employees to clock in and out to reflect all time worked, and to sign off on their pay records indicating that the hours that they reported were accurate. Another policy required employees to report up the chain of command any work problems involving their supervisors.

After Santonias quit, he sued for unpaid overtime. He alleged that his boss sometimes told him he had to work off-the-clock, ordering him to clock out and then continue working.

He also claimed the supervisor routinely changed Santonias’ time records to reflect lunch breaks he didn’t take.

Santonias admitted he knew he was supposed to report his supervisor’s actions to higher-ups and that he wasn’t supposed to clock out and keep working. He said he did it anyway because his boss told him to.

A lower court threw his case out, accepting TitleMax’s argument that Santonias was to blame for the underpayments.

He appealed, and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated his suit. It said that TitleMax knew or should have known that Santonias was underpaid and couldn’t escape liability just because Santonias broke company rules on overtime and accurate record-keeping. (Bailey v. TitleMax, No. 14-1147, 11th Cir., 2015)

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