Required to Work Through Your Lunch Break? You Could Be Entitled to Compensation

Break up with unpaid worktime

Break Up With Unpaid WorktimeAre you an hourly employee that works through your lunch break? Federal wage and hour law does not require employers to give employees lunch breaks; however, the laws of some states require that lunch breaks be provided. In either case, hourly employees who are given lunch breaks and are required to clock out for those breaks must be allowed to take an actual break in which they are relieved of all work-related duties.

In order for an employer to deduct a meal break from your total time worked, you must be “completely relieved of duty.” Eating at your desk while working is not a deductible break – rather, that is work time.   We hear from employees whose employers expect them to clock out for a lunch break and then continue to work while eating at their desks, eat quickly and then return to work while still off the clock, or are called out of the break room to perform work. We also hear from employees whose employers deduct pay for lunch breaks their employees did not take. However, even if you only work through an unpaid lunch break a couple of times a week, the lost wages can add up quickly. Often, as in the case of an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. employee who has to clock out for a one-hour lunch break, the wages lost are overtime hours for which they should be paid time and a half.

As an example, suppose an employee who earns $15 per hour worked 40 hours per week on the clock plus worked off-the-clock through their lunch break for one hour two days per week.  Over the course of a year, the employee has lost over $2,340 in unpaid wages, or 7.5% of their annual pay. Over 3 years, the amount of wages lost wages is $7,020. Under the law, employees who claim unpaid wages are normally entitled to recover double the amount of their unpaid wages, meaning that the employee in the example could recover over $14,000 for their two missed lunch breaks per week. If the employee worked during unpaid lunch breaks more often than two days per week, potential damages are even higher.

If you are one of the many employees who have lost wages due to unpaid and untaken lunch breaks, we can help. The law requires employers who violate federal wage law to pay the employees’ attorneys’ fees and costs, so we can represent you without any costs or fees paid by you. Call us today at (800) 616-4000 for a free consultation.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 830 3rd Ave, Floor 5, New York, NY.  Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX.  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.

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Paid Only For Hours Scheduled but Not Paid for Hours Worked?

Not paid on arrival

Time Worked vs Time ScheduledEmployees should be paid for all hours worked. What we see from time to time are employers who try to save on their expenses by only paying for hours scheduled, rather than actual hours worked. For example, if an employee arrives at work and starts working 15 minutes before the scheduled start time, the employer is not allowed to accept the benefit of that work but not pay the employee for the time.

Similarly, if an employee continues working beyond the scheduled end of their shift, the employer must pay for the additional time worked. Some employers have policies that require employees to arrive 10 minutes before their scheduled start time so that they are in their seats ready to get started at the scheduled shift time.  If an employer has a policy about arrival time, then such time arrived is when the time clock should start, not when the actual shift begins.

Be aware of time tracking policies where you may be asked to simply note your shift hours rather than the precise time you start and stop work. To the extent you are working more time than you can record, or to the extent your employer adjusts your records to only reflect your shift hours rather than all hours actually worked, call the Shavitz Law Group.   We can seek back-pay for time worked within the past 3 years under federal law and longer under certain state laws. Contact Shavitz Law Group at (561) 447-8888 or visit us at www.shavitzlaw.com for a free, no-obligation review of your circumstances and consultation regarding your rights.

You Earned It, Now Let’s Go Get It.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 830 3rd Ave, Floor 5, New York, NY.  Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX.  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.

 

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Completing New Hire Paperwork? Review Arbitration Agreement(s) Before Signing

Signing the dotted line could cost you down the line

Arbitration AgreementWhen starting a new job, you are naturally eager to get to work. Your employer hands you a stack of new hire paperwork and you breeze through it because you just want to hit the ground running.

Often included in this stack of new hire paperwork, however, is a document called an “arbitration agreement.” What an arbitration agreement often requires from an employee is that if a dispute arises related to the employee’s employment, the employee waives his or her right to bring a lawsuit against the employer and instead must bring this case in front of a private judge called an arbitrator. As such, the employee waives his or her right to have his or her case heard in front of a jury.

In an employment context, many arbitration agreements also include what is called a “class and collective waiver.” This means that the employee also agrees to give up his or her right to join a class or collective action case and can only proceed against an employer individually.

Arbitration agreements can come in many forms. They can be incorporated in an employee handbook (to which you acknowledge receipt). They can be included in your offer letter as a term and condition of employment. They can also be a stand-alone document.

Many employers give you the right to opt-out of the agreement. Thus, pay careful attention to whether the employer has an arbitration dispute resolution procedure or offers the option to not have to sign that to leave open the opportunity for you to proceed as part of a class action. An arbitration provision does not affect the damages you may be owed for unpaid overtime. It just affects the manner in which you may proceed to claim it.

If you have any questions about arbitration agreements or any other employment-related issues, please do not hesitate to call us directly at (800) 616-4000 for a free consultation. At Shavitz Law Group, we have represented thousands of workers regarding fair
compensation, and that includes people who are subject to arbitration provisions.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 830 3rd Ave, Floor 5, New York, NY.  Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX.  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.

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Big or Small – Every Overtime Case Has Value

Make a large splash with a small overtime stone

The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the federal law that sets forth the requirements for overtime pay, protects employees by requiring a company to pay a prevailing plaintiff his/her reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.  29 U.S.C. § 216 (b).   The purpose for this “fee shifting” is to protect workers who have small claims and to allow them to pursue their rights without fear of having their claims outweighed by the fees and costs to bring them.  At the Shavitz Law Group, no claim is too big or too small for us to consider.

While many might believe that incurring 5-10 minutes per day of unpaid time is inconsequential this uncompensated time adds up.  It can lead to an employee not being paid for over 40 hours per year.  If this is at the fault of a company that employs thousands of workers who all experience the same issue, a problem that seemed minor actually can end up potentially cheating workers collectively out of millions of dollars.

In addition, employees who pursue such claims on behalf of a class of people are oftentimes entitled to an additional sum of money, called a “service award,” in the event that a case settles.  While not guaranteed and subject to Court approval, the service award compensates these people who step forward to represent the interest of the class.

In sum, even what may seem like the smallest case, could have far-reaching effects on a company.  If you have an employment-related issue, do not hesitate to contact us at the Shavitz Law Group. You could be entitled to recover overtime pay and other compensation for every hour you’ve worked over 40 each week. Contact us today at info@shavitzlaw.com or call us directly at (800) 616-4000 for a free consultation.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LET’S GO GET IT.

 

 

 

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Statute of Limitations and Your Overtime Rights: One Quick Call Makes a Difference

Check the expiration date on your overtime

statute of limitationsTime and time again, we at the Shavitz Law Group get the same call from employees cheated out of their wages:

“When I worked for so-and-so, I regularly worked over 40 hours per week but wasn’t paid any overtime wages because I was paid on a salary basis.  I didn’t know that I could still be entitled to overtime pay despite my salary status.”

While true, often this call is made much too late.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) protects employees’ rights to seek unpaid wages, including overtime wages, whether those wages were earned as an hourly or salary-paid employee, or on some other basis.  However, this law requires that you assert your right to unpaid wages within either two or three years (depending on the circumstances) of the unpaid time worked – though, for some states, your deadline may be longer than three years.  Simply put, there is no way around a “statute of limitations.”  If you sit on your rights, you lose out while your employer reaps the benefit of free labor.

If you believe you may be entitled to unpaid wages for your hours worked, regardless of whether you are an hourly or salary-paid employee, speak to an attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your claim before it’s too late.  The longer you wait, the smaller your claim to back-pay may become because of the running of the statute of limitations.  One phone call can make all the difference.

If you have any questions regarding your pay, contact Shavitz Law Group at (561) 447-8888 or visit us at www.shavitzlaw.com for a free, no-obligation review of your circumstances and consultation regarding your rights.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW GO GET IT.

 

 

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Failing to Pay Managers Overtime to Reduce Labor Costs

Bearing the brunt of budget cuts

Employers often try to control costs by establishing labor or payroll budgets which limit the amount of payroll that can be spent on staffing the workplace.

For large companies with multiple locations, labor budgets are often set through corporate directives, and the managers at the locations have little or no input into deciding how much staff is needed for the operation to run smoothly. To keep labor costs low, the corporation often requires salaried managers to perform the same duties as hourly employees in addition to performing their managerial duties, or they will set a budget labor that is too low to adequately staff the business. However, that does not allow for hourly employees to work overtime hours.

When this occurs, it is common for managers to find themselves spending most of their time performing hourly duties instead of managing.  Managers who are salaried and classified as exempt work additional hours without exceeding the labor budget or causing the company to incur additional payroll costs, so they are often expected to work long hours, which they spend performing the same work as hourly employees.

In essence, the manager is a “glorified” staff member who can work limitless hours without having any impact on the labor budget. It is not uncommon for us to hear from managers who have compared their salary to what hourly workers would be earning if they worked the same number of hours and were paid overtime, only to find that their rate of pay is not much more than what the hourly workers earn.

Many salaried managers believe they can be legally required to work overtime hours without additional compensation. However, when a company’s model is to use a manager to perform a vast majority of non-managerial tasks, it is often the case that the manager’s non-managerial duties are more important than their managerial duties, particularly when the manager is also closely supervised by higher level managers or most of their duties are governed by corporate policies and directives.

Many “managers” will report that they spend as much as 90% of their time on the job performing the same tasks as hourly employees.  It is illegal for a company to classify a manager as exempt if the manager’s primary duty is to perform non-managerial tasks such as customer service, manual labor or sales, rather than actually managing the business and other employees. Under this scenario, the manager cannot be legally classified as exempt and must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 per week.

Shavitz Law Group has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for managers who have been misclassified as exempt due to their primary duties being non-managerial. This is often driven by labor or payroll budgets that are set too low or that depend upon managers performing non-exempt tasks.

If you are working long hours as a manager due to labor budgeting, we can evaluate whether you may be misclassified.  If so, you could be entitled to recover overtime pay and other compensation for every hour you’ve worked over 40 each week. Contact us today at info@shavitzlaw.com or call us directly at (800) 616-4000 for a free consultation.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LET’S GO GET IT.

 

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Helpdesk employees are essential employees, and they deserve overtime pay

Feeling helpless at your help desk

Feeling Helpless at Your Helpdesk

Helpdesk employees are critical to all companies.  They fix computer issues and make sure that all systems work properly to allow the business to function.  Without Helpdesk employees, other employees would not be able to use critical programs, and businesses would suffer.  To keep business running, many Helpdesk employees work long hours and field calls from employees at all hours, day and night.

However, some companies do not pay Helpdesk employees for all overtime hours worked.  Helpdesk employees often receive a salary for 40 hours but never receive any overtime pay, even if they work more than 40 hours in a week.  Helpdesk employees also work from home but are not reimbursed for the cost of using their personal internet and cell phone data plans.

In recent years, companies have paid millions of dollars to settle unpaid wage claims for Helpdesk employees.

Even though Helpdesk employees are often paid a salary, they still may be able to claim back-pay for up to three years, plus double damages. Even if there are no time records, the law still provides employees a remedy and does not waive that employee’s ability to rely upon their reasonable recollection of hours worked.

Does this sound familiar to you?   If you are interested in pursuing recovery of such damages for your unpaid overtime wages please contact us today at slg@shavitzlaw.com or call us directly at (800) 616-4000 for a free consultation. At Shavitz Law Group, we have helped thousands of workers stand up for their right to be fairly compensated.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LET’S GO GET IT.

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