The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the workweek at 40 hours before overtime wages must be paid for most wage-based employment. It also requires that, at minimum, a minimum wage be paid. Recently, various employers have faced complaints that full wages due have not been paid, which may be a symptom of companies tightening their belts–illegally–at their employees’ expense. Fortunately, FLSA provides the legal framework by which to recover unpaid wages.
One such recent unpaid wages lawsuit is against the pizza chain Papa John’s. Filed in Missouri, employees claim the pizza giant violated federal law by failing to reimburse employees for expenses they incurred while delivering pizzas. The result was that delivery drivers would make less than minimum wage. (see previous Tennessee Law Blog article on Hooters workers lawsuit for more on how work-required costs can lead to being paid less than the legally required minimum wage.)
In California, a worker has sued United Parcel Service., the Atlanta-based shipping giant, claiming some $100 million in overtime wages have been withheld from its account managers across the country. According to this lawsuit, UPS required its account managers to work up to 60 hours a week but claimed that these managers were not eligible for overtime pay. The overtime lawsuit also alleges UPS does not keep accurate track of hours its employees work and fails to provide mandated meal and break periods.
Also recently filed class action lawsuits include those against AutoZone and Wells Fargo Bank for allegedly fraudulently categorizing employees as exempt from overtime. They did so, according to the unpaid overtime lawsuit, by the unfortunately common practice of creating titles that do not fit employees’ work duties to avoid paying overtime wages for work performed in excess of 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day. Allegations were also made that certain Wells Fargo employees were required to work off-the-clock.
The Fair Labor Standards Act allows for recovery of unpaid wages, plus any related legal fees. Recovered wages could cover a two- or three-year period, depending on whether a violation is deemed willful. You do not need to be a current employee of a company breaking wage law to pursue a wage recovery lawsuit.