Employment Class Actions
Protecting the Rights of Workers to Fair Treatment
Workers have important rights under state and federal employment laws. Often a single employee is not in a position to protect her or his rights because the cost of and time of litigation would exceed the potential reward. In addition, acts of wage theft and other nefarious employment practices are not typically isolated and usually constitute a systemic practice affecting many employees. For these reasons, many employment-related claims are best handled as class actions.
Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky LLP represents employees nationwide in class action litigation involving wages, hours, discrimination, harassment and other employment matters. Our experienced team of trial lawyers has more than 20 years of experience litigating complex employment cases, and a determination to achieve the best possible recoveries for our clients.
Wage and Hour Disputes
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay workers at least the federal minimum wage, which may be higher under the laws of certain states. In addition, the FLSA requires employers to pay many employees time and one-half for all hours worked above 40 hours in a workweek. Violations of these laws cost workers their hard-earned wages. Common means of avoiding minimum wage and overtime pay requirements include:
- Independent contractors: Recently, many companies have begun to classify their employees as “independent contractors”. Companies do this to avoid paying overtime, expenses, benefits, and minimum wage to their employees. Whether a worker is an “employee” or an “independent contractor” is determined by law, not by the company.
- Misclassifying managers: While those who are truly managers are exempted from the overtime pay provisions, employees who are misclassified as managers (i.e. managers in name only) may be entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek or, in some states, over eight hours in a day. In some cases, managers earn substantially lower wages than if they had been classified as hourly employees.
- Skimming tips: Businesses are allowed to pay tipped employees $2.13 per hour and to add a tip credit of at least $5.12 per hour to meet minimum wage requirements. Some states mandate a higher minimum wage and tip credit. Employers are required to pay their tipped employees all tips they earned. So, for example, the money in a tip pool cannot be used to pay dishwashers, chefs and other non-tipped employees and restaurants cannot keep money designated as tips.
- Demanding workers to engage in unpaid tasks: Employers cannot force employees to work “off the clock”. What constitutes work is often determined according to the individual facts of each company’s work environment. Disputed tasks may include mandated training, short breaks, remaining on premises while on-call and answering emails and text messages while off-duty. Whether a task is “work” and thus compensable is a legal determination and not one that can be made solely by the company.
- Denying commissions: Commission-based compensation is allowed under the FLSA, either in lieu of a salary or as a supplement to a salary. However, employers must abide by the agreed upon terms of commission and cannot use the form of payment to avoid paying the worker altogether. Further, an employee cannot be made to perform tasks that are not sales related if they are paid solely on commission.
Employers are prohibited from making employment decisions based upon gender, race, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, religion or age and may be held accountable for harassing, firing, failing to promote, failing to hire, paying less for or giving inferior assignments to employees based upon discriminative factors. Employers that show a pattern of such behavior may be compelled to pay damages and change company policies and processes.
Contact Our Firm to Discuss Employment Class Action Litigation
Schneider Wallace is a national law firm that, by partnering with local firms, can assist clients in any jurisdiction in the country. Contact one of our three offices in California, Texas, North Carolina or Puerto Rico to schedule an appointment with our experienced employment class action litigation lawyers.