In February 2022, LAW Partner Steve Wolfe and attorney Missy Torgerson reached a successful settlement for claimed unpaid overtime wages on behalf of their clients, a group of pipefitters. Wolfe and Torgerson worked on the case together with Lee Brigham of the law firm Bell & Brigham in Augusta, GA. They brought the lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), which is the federal law that establishes certain employees’ right to be paid overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week.
The lawsuit alleged that the company forced its employees to work “off the clock” without paying them, including failing to pay them for “off the clock” overtime work. When a company pays its employees by the hour, the FLSA requires the company to keep accurate records of the employees’ true work hours. The FLSA also requires companies to pay these employees at least the federal minimum wage. And, if hourly employees work more than 40 hours per week, the FLSA requires the company pay them 1.5 times their regular hourly pay rate.
“Off the clock” work is a common violation of the wage and hour laws. It can take many forms. For example, a company might force employees to get to work before their shifts start, and to do set up, load supplies, or do other work before they clock in for the day. Or, a company might force employees to stay after they’ve clocked out and do work like unloading, cleaning up, or setting up for the next day. Deducting lunches or breaks even though employees work through their breaks is another type of off the clock violation.
The overtime lawsuit Wolfe and Torgerson, along with Lee Brigham, resolved in February 2022 primarily alleged that the company required its workers to start work before clocking in and to continue working after they clocked out. Because the employees alleged they routinely worked more than 40 hours per week, their claimed unpaid “off the clock” hours were overtime hours. That meant, per the lawsuit, that the company not only had to pay them for the hours, but it had to pay them at overtime rates, meaning, 1.5 times their regular hourly pay rates.
After filing the lawsuit, Wolfe, Torgerson, and Brigham won a motion for conditional certification of the case as an overtime collective action under the FLSA. One of the reasons the FLSA can be such a powerful law for protecting workers against wage violations is that it allows many employees with similar claims to join forces in a collective action. In this case, after winning the motion, the firm was able, under Court supervision, to send notice of the lawsuit to over a hundred workers who were eligible to join the lawsuit.
After winning the motion for conditional certification and other employees joining in the case, the firm aggressively conducted discovery, obtaining the company’s pay and hours records, and taking the sworn testimony of multiple witnesses, including the company’s owner. These efforts ultimately led to a favorable settlement on behalf of the firm’s clients.
Off the clock violations are just one of the many forms of wage violation and wage theft. LAW Partner Steve Wolfe heads the firm’s wage and hour practice, assisted by a team of knowledgeable associates and staff. Other common overtime violations Wolfe and LAW have successfully resolved for their clients include:
Cases on behalf of people who are misclassified as “independent contractors,” but who should legally be treated as employees because the company does not treat them as truly independent and controls how and/or when they do their work.
- Cases on behalf of salaried employees whose companies misclassify them as exempt from the FLSA. It is a common belief that, if you earn a salary, you do not have to be paid overtime. This is not true. Whether you are legally entitled to overtime pay depends on what your job is, not just on how you are paid.
- If you are concerned your company may not be paying you the way the law requires, LAW can answer your questions and help you understand your rights. And if you do need legal representation, LAW’s attorneys will fight aggressively for you.
Legare, Attwood & Wolfe, LLC specializes in representing employees who have suffered civil rights violations, including racial discrimination, gender discrimination (including pregnancy, sexual harassment, sexual orientation and transgender discrimination), religious discrimination, national origin discrimination, disability discrimination, as well as those who have Family Medical Leave Act claims, overtime and job misclassification claims, harassment, and breach of contract or wrongful termination claims. If you want more information about your unique situation, we’ll be glad to see if we can help. (470) 579-3936 | law-llc.com