Wage and Hour Division is Keeping Enforcement Promises
months ago, the new wage and hour guidelines went into
effect with the Department of Labor promising to greatly
step up their enforcement procedures. From the looks
of the activity in the past six months, it is apparent
that the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department
of Labor (DOL) is living up to their commitment. Here
are a few settlements that have been announced in the
past few months:
companies get caught. Cingular Wireless agreed to
pay $5.1 million in back wages for allowing employees
to work “off the clock”.
Small companies are also targeted. The El Mirosol
Bakery of Plant City, Florida, was sued by the DOL
and was ordered to pay over $121,000 in back wages
because it did not pay its employees overtime for
time worked over 40 hours a week.
Another Florida employer, L-3 Communications in
St. Petersburg, Florida, incorrectly classified
186 employees as exempt when they should have been
classified as non-exempt. L-3 agreed to pay over
$280,000 in back overtime pay to these employees.
you are lulled into thinking it is only the big
companies that get caught, think again, as Lift,
Inc., a Mississippi Day Care Center, was forced
to pay $30,000 in back overtime wages.
If you are a government entity and feel immune,
the Davie County, North Carolina Sheriff’s
office had to pay nearly $51,000 in back overtime
A firm involved in human resources ought to know
better. Merritt Hawkins & Associates, a recruitment
firm in Dallas, Texas, also incorrectly classified
a number of employees as exempt. They had to pay
over $100,000 in back wages.
would go after a non-profit or not-for-profit organization?
LifeGift Donor Organ Center, a not-for-profit organ
procurement organization, had to pay nearly $376,000
in back overtime pay. They made the very common
mistake of misclassifying 59 current and former
employees as exempt.
have said this before, but we believe that it is imperative
that you take a look at the exempt positions in your
workplace to be sure that they qualify for an exemption
under the Fair Labor Standards Act guidelines. DO NOT
wait until the Wage and Hour investigator comes to your
door with a complaint in hand and then wants to take
days or weeks to comb through your payroll records.
Knowing the rules is half the game; the other half is
enforcing them. Know the rules for what qualifies as
exempt, how to handle unauthorized overtime, how to
handle training and travel time and other issues related
to pay practices. Make sure managers and supervisors
know the rules as well. Wage and hour complaints have
quickly become the employee grievance of choice. The
complaint process is easier than the process followed
by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Additionally, Wage and Hour resolves cases in about
90 days compared to years for the EEOC. If you were
after a few extra bucks what road would you take? The
easier and faster route of the wage and hour division
or the slow and complex route of the EEOC?