There are state and federal laws that require an employer to follow specific guidelines regarding minimum wages and overtime pay. It is crucial that as an employer, you maintain detailed records for all your employees, for at least three years, that include:
- Sick days
- Break and meal breaks
- Hours worked (i.e., time records)
- Holiday, vacation days, etc.
Even some employers who keep these detailed records for their employees can find themselves on the receiving end of an overtime lawsuit claim from an employee. All employees have the right to file with the Wage and Hour Division within the DOL (Department of Labor) or file a lawsuit, against their employer.
As an employer, your best defense against overtime lawsuits is retaining the skills of a Florida employment law attorney, such as Danz Law. Danz Law has the experience in representing employers and the knowledge in employment law to help you.
These are some tips for defending unpaid overtime lawsuits if you are facing a claim from one or more of your employees.
How to Defend Against an Unpaid Overtime Claim
The FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) is a federal law that states that non-exempt employees are to be compensated for overtime hours at their base hourly wage, plus 50% more for each hour worked beyond 40 hours within a 7 day workweek. This pay is typically referred to as ‘time and a half.’ If an employee files a claim against your company for not adhering to this law, you will be required to produce records showing the actual hours they have worked.
A preventive and proactive strategy to avoid these types of lawsuits is to have a policy in place to prohibit employees from working more than forty hours in seven days unless you’ve given prior approval. This policy will manage your risk of a lawsuit for unpaid overtime.
Claims of Unpaid Overtime Hours
Even those employers who have a policy in place for working overtime hours for their employees still find some employees will file a claim. These employees claim their employer side-stepped or did not follow their policy because:
- Supervisors required them to clock out but continue working
- Supervisors told them to not clock in during a work time
- Supervisors falsified their time records to avoid overtime hours being recorded
- Supervisors withheld overtime approval but still required the time to be put in
- Employees were misclassified as exempt when they were in fact non-exempt employees.
If your employees make one of these allegations against your company, you will have to present credible documentation to show they are wrong. If a group of employees makes the same allegation, it will be difficult for you to win these overtime lawsuits.
If you have a solid plan in place regarding overtime hours but a supervisor does not follow it, you may still be liable for any unpaid overtime hours along with other double (liquidated) damages as well as attorneys’ fees. If you have an overtime hour policy in place, you should ensure:
- All supervisors are trained on the overtime policy
- Supervisors are aware that non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours even without approval, must be paid for all hours worked
- Disciplinary action is in place for those employees who violate the overtime policy
- Supervisors know the policy for disciplining employees who violate the overtime plan
An Experienced and Knowledgeable Employment Law Attorney
Danz Law represents employers in the State of Florida in employment litigation cases in both federal and state cases. We can provide you with strong litigation services if your case ends up in an audit or litigation, but are ready to help your company prevent a wage and hour claim. Let us help you resolve this issue and prevent future problems from arising.