Uptick in wage-and-hour cases

In both Wisconsin and the rest of the country, 2015 saw a large number of wage-and-hour cases filed in federal court. Just through September, around 9,000 cases were filed in federal court, with several thousand more also being filed in state courts around the U.S. Over the last 15 years, the number of filed wage-and-hour cases has increased by a dramatic 450 percent.

In wage-and-hour cases, the employer is normally held to be strictly liable for violating such rules as those regarding minimum wage and overtime. Since the laws in this area are very complicated, employers often make mistakes. When they do, they may end up facing class action lawsuits from employees and significant expenses.

Many cases involve employers deeming workers as independent contractors when they should be considered to be statutory, hourly employees instead. When that occurs, the employer may face significant penalties and fines on top of other damages. Coming soon is the new implementation of the Department of Labor’s rule that raises the white-collar exemption limit for qualifying for overtime pay to $50,440, an increase from its current level of $23,660. The law will be effective in 2016, and employers who do not pay the overtime to these millions of employees may face additional future litigation.

Employment law frequently changes, and it is up to employers to stay current with what the law currently is. When they fail to do so, they may face claims by their employees. People who believe they have not been paid fairly for the work they have done for their employer may want to consult with an employment law attorney. Legal counsel can review an employee’s position, hours and pay to determine if additional amounts are owed.

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