Nearly nine million Americans lost their jobs during the Great Recession and its aftermath. Those who were fortunate enough to stay off the unemployment line were expected to work longer hours, often for the same, or even less, pay. Few complained. Most felt blessed they had a job to go to at all. But a funny thing happened when the recession ended. Instead of rewarding them for their hard work and dedication during those difficult times, most bosses continued to push their undersized staffs just as hard. Workers are finally fighting back in court with the help of employment law firms.
A Recent Trend
The number of American workers who are presently suing employers under federal and state wage-and-hour laws reached a record high in 2014. Although each case is different, the major bone of contention is that American businesses have benefited from 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 are required to pay time-and-a-half the regular rate to most employees who put in over 40 hours per week. It doesn’t matter if they are part-time, full-time, temporary, or salaried employees. However, because they don’t want to pay these additional wages, some bosses misrepresent the extent of state and federal rules regarding overtime pay. They might, for example, ask their employees to work off the clock or beg them to do them a personal favor by staying late.
Most workers were willing to do their bosses these favors when times were tight, but not any longer. They now want the money to which they are legally entitled. While some bosses agree to pay these back wages as soon as they hear from employment law firms, others play defense.
Who Is Entitled?
All hourly workers, no matter their job title, description, or immigration status, are entitled to overtime pay. Executives and other white-collar workers may be exempted from this rule if they are managers or administrators who are expected to work long hours and are compensated accordingly with higher annual salaries. 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 output per labor hour, rose 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 staffs. The practice continues to this day. Technology giant Oracle recently agreed to pay $35 million in overtime pay to workers it had intentionally misclassified as administrators!
As we mentioned, not every employee is entitled to overtime pay. To find out if you are eligible for additional remuneration, contact reputable employment law firms ASAP. Lawyers 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. Do not simply 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 only get paid if you receive the money that is owed you.