Nearly nine million Americans lost their jobs during the Great Recession and its aftermath. Those lucky enough to stay out of the unemployment line were expected to work longer hours, often for the same pay or even less. Few complained. Most felt blessed to have a job to go to. But a funny thing happened when the recession ended. Rather than reward them for their hard work and dedication during those difficult times, most bosses continued to push their undersized staff with equal force. Workers are finally fighting back in court with the help of labor law firms.
A recent trend
The number of American workers currently suing employers under federal and state wage and hour laws reached a record high in 2014. Although each case is different, the main bone of contention is that American businesses have benefited from a increased productivity, while most employees have not. In the overwhelming majority of these cases, the worker sues to recover the overtime wages to which they are legally entitled.
Businesses must pay time and a half of the regular rate to most employees who put in more than 40 hours a week. It does not matter if they are part-time, full-time, temporary or salaried employees. However, because they do not want to pay these additional wages, some bosses misrepresent the scope of state and federal rules regarding overtime pay. They could, for example, ask their employees to work after hours or beg them to do them a personal favor by staying late.
Most workers were willing to do these favors for their bosses when times were tough, but not anymore. Now they want the money they are legally entitled to. While some bosses agree to pay these back wages as soon as they hear from labor law firms, others play defensively.
Who has the right?
All hourly workers, regardless of their job title, description or immigration status, are entitled to overtime pay. Executives and other white-collar workers may be exempt from this rule if they are managers or administrators who are expected to work long hours and are compensated accordingly with higher annual wages. Other employees with hours that are difficult to track, such as sales reps and technology workers, may have a hard time claiming overtime or may not be entitled to it at all.
The bottom line
U.S. productivity, or hourly output, increased by four percent in 2010, which was the largest increase in recent memory. That was a full year after the Great Recession ended! In other words, instead of hiring additional employees, bosses continued to squeeze more output from their undersized staff. The practice continues to this day. Tech giant Oracle recently agreed to pay $ 35 million in overtime pay to workers it had wrongly classified as administrators.
As we mentioned, not all employees are entitled to overtime pay. To find out if you are eligible for additional compensation, contact reputable employment law firms as soon as possible. The attorneys at these firms specialize in this growing area of legal practice and know local and federal labor laws inside and out.
What to look for
A simple web search will return an impressive list of employment law firms in your area. Don’t just select the first name on the page. Take your time and visit their websites. If you like what you see, give them a ring. Most reputable attorneys offer free initial consultations and you only get paid if you receive the money that is owed to you.