October 27, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/
-- With unemployment hovering near 8 percent in the wake of the Great Recession, wage-and-hour lawsuits by workers in the United States have reached their highest level in 20 years, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts reported recently.
According to the report, U.S. workers filed a total of 7,064 lawsuits contesting their wages, hours and overtime during the 12-month period ending March 31, 2012. The number of wage-and-hour lawsuits has increased nearly every year since 2000, which had a total of only 1,854, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
The weak economy is widely thought to be a major factor in the growing onslaught of wage-and-hour lawsuits against U.S. employers. During these difficult economic times, many businesses are trying to make do with fewer employees, placing ever-increasing demands on a dwindling workforce. With jobs scarce, many workers are reluctant to object to working "off the clock" for fear they may lose their jobs or face other repercussions in the workplace. However, when these same workers lose their jobs due to further downsizing or layoffs, they may feel they have nothing left to fear and may therefore be more willing to stand up for their right to be paid for the work they have done.
Overtime and Working "Off the Clock"
Inadequate compensation for overtime hours is one of the most common causes of wage-and-hour disputes between employees and employers. Most public and private employers in California are bound by a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets standards on employment issues such as minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor provisions and recordkeeping requirements. California state law offers additional protections to workers in the state. In California, most employees are entitled to:
-A minimum wage of $8.00 per hour
-Overtime wages of at least 1.5 times the regular hourly wage for all work performed in excess of 8 hours in a workday, 40 hours in a workweek, or for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day in a workweek
-Overtime wages of at least twice the regular hourly wage for all work performed in excess of 12 hours in a workday or in excess of eight hours on the seventh consecutive day in a single workweek
In addition to overtime violations, another common cause of wage-and-hour disputes arises when companies simply fail to pay workers for all of the time they have worked. This occurs when employers fail to properly recognize employees' working hours as compensable time, such as paid rest and meal periods, on call time, or time spent traveling as part of a principle employment activity.
Another common cause of wage-and-hour disputes arises when employers improperly classify workers as exempt from minimum wage and overtime laws as a cost-saving measure. While certain types of employees such as business executives and outside sales representatives are legally exempt from wage and overtime laws, many others are classified improperly by their employers, whether deliberately or unintentionally.
California workers who believe they have been improperly deprived of pay for the hours they have worked should seek advice from a lawyer who is dedicated to helping employees protect their legal rights. An experienced employment law attorney can help concerned workers evaluate their situations, determine whether their rights have been violated, and explain the legal options available to them. If an employee decides to move forward with pursuing a wage-and-hour lawsuit, a knowledgeable attorney can be a powerful advocate for the workers' rights and will work hard to obtain the best possible outcome to the case.
Article provided by A H Skola Law Offices
Visit us at http://www.ahskola.com---
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