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Overtime Labor Laws

Federal overtime laws, designed to help end the exempt vs. non-exempt debate, have made things worse. To non-exempt and exempt employees, labor laws continue to confuse.

Business Management Daily can help you comply with federal overtime laws. Learn when you have to pay overtime, and when you don’t.

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Sometimes an employee pro­­moted to management just isn’t ready for new responsibilities. Maybe she’s having a hard time thinking like an exempt employee, longing for the days when she was entitled to breaks and overtime. Fortunately, if you discipline such employees for neglecting their duties, they can’t later claim they actually were hourly employees entitled to overtime.
Rocky Mount-based Premier Ware­­housing Ventures is being sued over pay practices at its former facility in Jurupa Valley, Calif. Premier no longer operates the facility, but current and former employees have filed a lawsuit alleging wage-and-hour violations dating back to 2003.
Q. We would like to hire a few college interns over the summer, but with our tight budget, I don’t think we can pay them. What rules apply to unpaid internships?
A federal court has ordered Roseville-based Aspen Nursing Services to pay more than $210,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 22 employees in Kentucky and Ohio.
Not every collective or class-action case has to blow up into a multimillion-dollar nightmare. Instead, some judges are approving more modest settlements, if this case is any indication.
Q. We couldn’t obtain the amount of overtime one of our employees worked in time to include payment for those hours in the current payroll period. We understand that untimely payment of wages could expose our company to penalties. May we issue a paycheck to the employee for his regular hours worked and include his overtime payment in the following pay period?

Sometimes, it’s better to settle than to fight. If a case is pretty clear and the potential liability small, it makes sense to pony up the settlement money. Otherwise, a court may punish bullheadedness with a large award for attorneys’ fees.

The pharmaceutical industry must have a bull’s-eye on its back, because employees’ attorneys continue to take aim at it, filing class-action lawsuits that allege unfair or illegal pay practices.
The FMLA does not give employers the right to decide that an employee's sick relative has enough assistance and doesn’t need your employee’s help. That argument won’t fly—from a compassion or legal perspective.
The DOL has a new fact sheet covering illegal retaliation against employees who complain about possible violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Reminder: The FLSA’s anti-retaliation pro­vision applies to all employees, not just non­exempts.
The FLSA sets strict rules for how you pay employees, including who can earn overtime pay and how much it must be. Fail to follow them and you could wind up on the losing end of a lawsuit, potentially liable for millions of dollars. Make sure your organization establishes practices and procedures that prevent overtime mistakes. Four important tips:
On the surface, internship arrangements look like a win-win: The employer gets free labor. The intern gets valuable training and builds skills. But before you get carried away by the prospect of marvelous production for virtually no cost, let’s have a reality check.
Q. We are a social services organization. After employees make home visits to clients, they must file reports within 24 hours, even if that means they must work on weekends. Most of these employees have two-year associate degrees; some have bachelor’s degrees. Can we treat these social workers as exempt employees under the FLSA?
In addition to protecting ­­employees’ wage-and-hour rights, the Fair Labor Standards Act protects employees from retaliation for asserting their pay rights. But until now, it was unclear whether it was protected activity to file an internal report that someone within the organization was violating the FLSA. The 4th Circuit has ruled that it is.
A handful of high-profile legal disputes are shining a bright light on an often-ignored issue: Should employers be required to pay interns at least the minimum wage?
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a class-action sex discrimination claim brought by thousands of female Walmart employees. Now the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has clarified how far the decision goes in class-action wage-and-hour cases.
Q. We have an exempt supervisor who has accumulated more than 400 hours of comp time over the past year. It’s almost impossible for her to take 400 hours of comp time and still do her job. What is our obligation to pay for this comp time? How can this issue best be resolved?
Here’s a bit of advice to any employer using commercial drivers in their enterprise: Before concluding those employees are exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act because they’re covered by the Motor Carrier Act, call your attorney.
Q. We are hiring for a new position that does not meet any exemption under the Fair Labor Stand­­ards Act (FLSA). However, we think there will be more interest in the job if we pay a salary. Can we still compensate on a salary basis even if the position is nonexempt?

If your company is like most and cutting costs is a top priority, reducing overtime expenditures can make a big difference.  Be careful with how your company goes about reining in overtime, though; failing to properly pay for all overtime hours worked could result in more financial harm than good.  In addition to paying employees back wages, you will also pay liquidated, or double, damages.  And liquidated damages are the rule, rather than the exception.  Paying employees correctly the first time is your best strategy.  Employees have two years to sue for non-willful mistakes, and three years for willful mistakes.  Read on to learn from others' mistakes.

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