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Wage and hour lawsuits reach highest point in 20 years

Texas law protects workers whose employers fail to pay them in full for the work they do.
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    January 31, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Wage and hour lawsuits reach highest point in 20 years

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Along with elevated unemployment rates and decreased job security, workers in Texas have yet another challenge to contend with in today's slow economy: employers who fail to pay them what they are owed.

In the years since the financial crisis struck in 2008, lawsuits stemming from wage and hour violations have spiked to their highest levels in two decades in the United States, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Some experts suggest that the recent spike in lawsuits of this type may be a result of employers trying to accomplish more with fewer workers. Others say the trend reflects a greater awareness of employee rightsand an increased willingness among workers to speak up for themselves when those rights are violated.

Common wage and hour violations

Wage and hour lawsuits can stem from a number of different circumstances in which an employee is not adequately paid for the work he or she has performed. Some of the most common examples of wage and hour violations include:
-Failure to pay overtime. One of the most frequent ways that employers commit wage and hour violations is by failing to adequately pay workers for their overtime hours. In Texas, most employers are required by law to pay non-exempt workers one and a half times their normal hourly wage for any hours worked in excess of the standard 40-hour work week. Failure to comply with this "time and a half" requirement is a violation of both Texas law and federal statute.
-Working "off the clock." Another common type of wage and hour violation occurs when employers fail to pay workers for all of their hours worked -- whether or not they exceed 40 hours per week. This type of violation often occurs when companies do not properly account for workers' compensable time, for instance by failing to provide paid meal and rest breaks or by inaccurately accounting for time spent traveling or on call.
-Misclassification of employees. Yet another way that wage and hour lawsuits can arise is when companies wrongfully classify workers as exempt (typically salaried) when in fact they should be classified as non-exempt (typically hourly). While certain types of workers can be legitimately classified as exempt, meaning that they are not protected by federal minimum wage and overtime laws, employers frequently classify workers incorrectly. Whether deliberate or accidental, this type of misclassification can deprive workers of the full compensation they are entitled to by law.

Texas workers who believe they have been illegally deprived of their rights under state or federal employment laws are encouraged to get in touch with a knowledgeable employment lawyer. An attorney with a strong background in Texas employment matters can help workers evaluate their options and pursue a course of action to protect their individual needs and interests.

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