December 12, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Government shutdown lawsuit good example of employment class action---
Article provided by Brown & Gould, PLLC
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The Labor Code protects workers from a wide array of unfair employer practices, including unpaid overtime, workplace discrimination and failure to provide legally mandated breaks. However, in order to enforce their rights, employees must sometimes ban together. Imagine that an employer forced workers to put in unpaid overtime over a span of a couple weeks. For several hundred dollars in back pay, it might not be worth it for an individual employee to go to the trouble of retaining a lawyer and filing a lawsuit to enforce his or her right to an overtime premium.
But, if employees across the organization banded together, an employment law class action could help each of them get an equitable recovery through a single legal claim. In many instances, class actions are financially advantageous for the class members because a lawyer will advance costs and fees, collecting reimbursement only if the lawsuit is won.
One of the most high profile potential employment law class actions grabbing recent headlines involves federal employees who continued to work during the recent government shutdown. According to papers filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims, pay delays for essential federal employees who worked during the shutdown violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Court documents: Federal workers entitled to more pay
Under the FLSA, workers who are compensated on an hourly basis must be paid a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Hourly employees must also be paid an overtime premium for work done in excess of the applicable overtime thresholds (generally any work time in excess of 40 hours during a given week).
In documents filed on October 24, several named plaintiffs who worked during the shutdown filed a lawsuit on behalf of themselves and other federal employees who are similarly situated. The allegation is that delays in pay caused by the government shutdown violated the FLSA from October 1 through October 5. During that timeframe, since the workers did not receive their pay until some time after their regularly scheduled pay period, the suit says the employees were not receiving the applicable minimum wage or overtime premium for the work they were performing.
The documents also include workers exempt from the FLSA: those paid on a salary basis. Pay for these employees was delayed, allegedly meaning that exempt employees were not, in fact, paid on a salary basis October 1 to October 5 and thus are also entitled to relief.
Not all federal employees who worked through the shutdown are covered by this suit, for instance, those whose positions are not funded by annual appropriations. But, as many as 1.3 million federal workers could opt into the suit.
Call an employee rights law firm on behalf of yourself and other potential class members
The outcome of the new federal workers' lawsuit is uncertain, but it is a good example of the type of grievance that could give rise to employment litigation.
It usually takes one or more people who believe they, along with others who are similarly situated, have been wronged to initiate a class action. If you believe your rights in the workplace have been violated, get in touch with an employment law attorney. Even if individually pursing your claim might not be an option, a class action suit can be a powerful vehicle to get the compensation you are entitled to and put an end to unfair employment practices.
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