Wage and Hour Lawsuits and Cases
The primary issues in wage and hour disputes and lawsuits revolve around whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The challenges in these cases arise because of the unequal relationship between employers and employees. Employees are often too intimidated to seek help or to even complain, and in turn the employers argue that “they never complained”. But that is not a defense to illegal treatment.
Most often, these cases involve employers who refuse to pay their employees overtime wages. Overtime wages are earned when an employee works over 8 hours in a single workday (any hours over 8 hours are due wages at 1½ times the wage rate up to 12 hours worked in a single workday and 2 times the wage rate over 12 hours worked in a single workday) or over 40 hours worked in a single workweek. Calculations of overtime wages due can be made on a daily basis or on a weekly basis.
Challenges in wage and hour lawsuits include exemptions for one of the reasons laid out in detail in the Wage Orders of California’s Industrial Wage Commission. Typical exemptions, for which overtime (and meal/rest breaks) are not available include “manager” and “administrative” exemptions. Many lawyers end the analysis when the employee is given a title such as “manager”, “supervisor” or “administrator”. But the title given to the employee is irrelevant at law. The exemption only applies if more than 50% of the time spent by the employee is ACTUALLY spent on real managerial and/or administrative functions. Workers who do not have hiring or firing power (or at least any recommendations they make in that regard are not generally followed by their bosses) are not likely to meet the exemption. In many cases, the lawyer has to break down the client’s typical day and determine how many hours in a typical day are spent on managerial/supervisory and/or administrative duties versus duties or taks which are not of this type. Wage and hour lawsuits can get complicated and you need experience on your side.
In one significant case, our client was a “manager” in a business in which the employees were making phone sales. The defense offered zero money, on the basis that she was “exempt” as a manager from overtime and break protection laws. But at the deposition of the owner and of a corporate officer, it emerged that about 42% of her time was spent on managerial functions and the rest of her time was spent on non-managerial tasks. The wage and hour case therefore resolved for six figures (several hundred thousand dollars).
Some of these wage and hour dispute cases also have complex issues regarding what hours are counted as work time and what hours are not. For example, several recent California cases have held that time spent waiting for the employer to check their bags entering or exiting the premises consists of time for which the employee must be paid. And sometimes that results in unpaid overtime hours. Other clients have had to have work calls routed to their cell phones or home phones after regular work hours and/or on weekends. Thus, when we examined her phone records, we found many calls that were work-related. For that reason, we were able to obtain, in a similar case, tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid compensation, including overtime wages, for hours she spent doing the employer’s business on her cell phone.
Other challenges for wage and hours lawsuits are that the employer controls the time clock or time cards, or that the employer requires an employee to clock out but still do work off the clock. Often, they will intimidate an employee into signing a time sheet every day which is inaccurate, i.e., which undercounts the hours actually worked. In these cases, the employers typically refuse to offer any money at all. However, after we obtained statements and depositions of other employees who also experienced similar things, that the employer forced them to work off the clock or forced them to falsely admit they had not worked overtime, we were able to obtain significant recoveries.
If you have a case and possible lawsuit similar to these, contact Ken Ralidis at 213.251.5480 today to see how he can help you get the compensation you deserve. We have often obtained results for our clients that are 10-25 times what the initial offer was. Don’t just settle for any attorney that may not have the experience, or a big law firm that doesn’t have the time or resources for a case like yours. Reach out to Ken Ralidis for his experience and the personal attention he offers. We can help you win your case!