Increased Overtime Lawsuits

A recent USAToday article “More American Workers Sue Employers for Overtime Pay” notes a reported 32% increase in such lawsuits from 2008 levels.

The most common overtime claims focus on:
Working off the clock through breaks and before or after regular hours;
Misclassified jobs exempted from overtime incorrectly;
Smartphones and other technology involving emails and texts from work than lengthen the working day in excess of forty hours per week.

The Supreme Court will soon rule on a misclassification claim involving pharmaceutical “sales representatives” who were treated as exempt from overtime as outside sales jobs, even though the representative never took customer orders but merely educated doctors and handed out samples.

With increasing news coverage of these lawsuits, more and more employees will be asking questions of their employers about overtime pay practices and exemptions.

Employers should consider including in annual supervisor training regarding:
(a) how to respond to such questions without inflaming employee discontent,
(b) how to avoid retaliation claims from employees who raised overtime concerns,
(c) how to reinforce and promote company policies on prior authorization for overtime, and
(d) how to report such concerns so that company investigations can assure compliance with federal and state wage and hour laws before facing a costly class action lawsuit of DOL investigation.

By Don Benson

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