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If you haven't been interested in wage and hour compliance before, this bit of information may pique your interest.
There have been more wage and hour lawsuits filed against employers in the first seven months of this year than the whole of last year. Specifically, there have been 7,064 Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuits filed this year, as compared to 7,006 filed for all of 2011, reports NBC. A decade ago, there were only about 2,000 such lawsuits filed a year.
So does this mean that more employers are breaking the law? Not necessarily. According to the report, the federal government has been enforcing wage and hour laws much more closely. In addition, widely publicized wage and hour settlements in the tens of millions of dollars may have alerted many employees to previously unknown laws. So how can you prevent your company from getting sued?
The most simple rule is that you should pay your employees for their hours worked. If they work overtime, pay them overtime. If they work from home, ensure that those hours are counted. You should never have your non-exempt employees working for free regardless of how minor the assignment.
Along with this basic axiom, the study of wage and hour lawsuits indicated that the most common reason that employers were sued was because they misclassified employees. There are extremely detailed rules on when employees qualify as exempt. If they don't meet these stringent requirements, your employees should be classified as non-exempt, paid overtime, and possibly given meal and rest breaks.
Many employers assume that if an employee is paid a salary or is a manager, that the employee is automatically exempt. This simply is not true. Wage and hour compliance requires employers to take a close look at the specific duties of each employee to see if they qualify for an exemption category. This will require a more in-depth analysis than reviewing someone's job title.
If you have any specific questions about your employees, you may want to contact an employment attorney.