The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a vital piece of legislation that safeguards the rights of workers in the United States. One crucial protection offered by the FLSA is the prohibition of retaliation against employees who assert their rights to seek unpaid overtime.
Under the FLSA, employers are required to compensate eligible employees for any overtime hours worked. However, workers may have questions about how they are being paid and disputes regarding unpaid overtime can sometimes arise between employers and employees. To address this issue, the FLSA guarantees the right to seek unpaid overtime and protects employees from retaliation for asserting this right.
Retaliation can take various forms, such as termination, demotion, reduction in hours, pay cuts, or any adverse action that negatively impacts the employee’s employment status or working conditions. The FLSA’s retaliation protection covers a wide range of activities, including but not limited to filing a complaint with the Department of Labor, cooperating with an investigation, or simply requesting information about their rights from their employer. It is important to note that retaliation is illegal regardless of whether the employee’s claim for unpaid overtime is ultimately successful or not.
Employees who have faced retaliation must understand the significance of the FLSA’s protection against such actions. It empowers workers to assert their rights without fear of adverse consequences. By familiarizing themselves with the specific actions covered under anti-retaliation provision of the FLSA—such as filing a complaint, cooperating with an investigation, or seeking information, or claiming backpay for unpaid overtime within the past 3 years —employees can better protect themselves. Employees should also seek legal counsel if they believe they have experienced retaliation, as they have rights and recourse under the FLSA to ensure fair and legal treatment in the workplace.
As recently reported by The Guardian, the iconic sneaker brand Nike may be liable for over $530 million dollars in taxes and fines for misclassifying its temporary office workers as independent contractors. Nike’s purported misclassification of temporary office workers includes – but is not limited to — people hired by Nike to do business consulting, T-shirt graphics, photography and event planning.
In addition to avoiding taxes, companies like Nike may classify workers as independent contractors to evade billions in overtime, paid time off, restricted stock options, retirement plan contributions and healthcare. Thus, a finding that temporary office workers are actually employees and not independent contractors raises a separate and equally important issue: did Nike pay these temporary office workers overtime wages for the hours they worked over 40 in a work week? The answer to the question undoubtedly is “no.” Because it classified these temporary office workers as independent contractors, then Nike could use that independent contractor classification to wrongfully withhold overtime wages and benefits.
According to The Guardian, a report on Nike’s classification of temporary office workers warns “Employers who are found to have misclassified workers as freelancers are also potentially liable for other potential costs,” including unpaid overtime, among other things. In addition, the report also notes that Nike could be subject to class-action lawsuits for unpaid overtime and other benefits.
Shavitz Law Group handles lawsuits where companies misclassify workers as independent contractors. If Nike – or another company – misclassified you or someone you know as an independent contractor contact Shavitz Law Group to learn more about your legal rights.
In its last weeks, the Trump administration adopted regulations which would make it easier for workers to be classified as independent contractors. Those regulations never took effect. Now the Biden administration has rejected them, opting instead to keep the economic realities test.
The proposed but not implemented regulations would have allowed employers to exempt themselves from minimum wage and overtime laws if their workers were considered independent contractors under a new test whose factors favored such a finding. Had it passed, more workers would not have been covered by a number of laws, simply because they would not been considered employees. Such laws would have included not only the Fair Labor Standards Act governing overtime and minimum wage, but also state laws such as workers’ compensation. These workers also would not have been eligible for many benefits, including health insurance, and could not participate in 401k plans.
The current law which will remain in effect applies a multi-factor test to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. In announcing the decision to keep the existing economic realities test, the administration emphasized that federal law favors giving the broadest interpretation possible to the definition of an employee. This approach favors workers being classified as employees, thereby entitling such workers to the protections of federal law and benefits only available to employees.
If you have questions relating to the use of company-issued email or computers, or any other employment-related matter, contact Shavitz Law Group at (800) 616-4000 or email us at [email protected].
Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, 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.