With all that is going on in the country and across the world, reading the news can be depressing. When it comes to employee rights, there are numerous reports of inaccurate pay, harassment, discrimination and mistreatment in the workplace.
A case about a misbehaving employer in Texas has turned out well, however. Kennard Law, P.C., an employment law firm in Houston recently secured a $2.2 million lawsuit for workers who did not receive their rightful wages and were denied overtime pay. Details of the case are confidential. However, it's important to know your rights.
Common Wage and Hour Violations
While wage and hour claims are far too common, one of the more frequent violations involve misclassifications of employees. This involves employers claiming that their employees are "exempt" and thus not eligible for overtime. Unfortunately, there are many other examples of wage and hour violations, such as:
- Rounding down time: Does your employer always round your time worked down to the nearest 15-minute increment? The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to round to the nearest quarter hour instead. Those extra minutes can add up quickly, and you should be paid for them.
- Averaging pay periods: If you are paid every two weeks, your employer cannot average your time worked over 14 days. For example, if you worked 30 hours one week and 50 the next, your boss cannot avoid paying you overtime by saying that your bi-weekly average was 80 hours.
- Unauthorized, off-the-clock work: Do you perform work duties outside of your normal hours? If your boss "knows or has reason to know" you are doing this, it still counts as payable time. Checking emails, making or taking calls from customers or co-workers and being "on-call" are common examples.
- Trainings and meetings: If you have been instructed to attend a seminar, lecture or meeting -- such as a safety training class --, you should be paid for your attendance except in very narrowly defined circumstances.
- Traveling time: If traveling is a part of your work, time spent traveling is payable time. For example, a construction worker who has to drive from one jobsite to another or has to pick up materials should be paid for time spent on the road.
- Work breaks: Are your lunch breaks interrupted by calls or requests for information? Your employer should pay you wages for your lunch break if you are expected to be available. Also, should you choose to break up your mealtime into shorter increments throughout the day, your employer cannot count them collectively as your unpaid meal break.
You do not have to accept less than what you are owed by your employer. If your employer is short-changing you on wages or overtime, learn about your legal options by talking to a lawyer.