Wage & Hour: WHD

The body of law that governs the employer-employee relationship, including individual employment contracts, the application of tort and contract doctrines, and a large group of statutory regulation on issues such as the right to organize and negotiate collective bargaining agreements, protection from discrimination, wages and hours, and health and safety. Download a Free Report on Wage & Hour
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Wage and Hour Simple? The 10 Sins

"Minimum wage and overtime—how hard could it be? Wage and hour should be simple, but it’s just not. Where are the 10 most common “sins” managers and supervisors commit in complying with the “simple” rules?"

Sin #1. Failure to pay the minimum wage

We’ll pay you $5 an hour until you learn the ropes; then you move up to $7 an hour.

Virtually all employees are entitled to receive at least the minimum wage (the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour; many states have higher minimum wages) for all hours worked. Special arrangements may be made for waitstaff (although their tips have to put them above the minimum wage) and for certain training situations.


10 Tips for Avoiding Wage and Hour Investigations

"In yesterday’s Advisor, BLR Legal Editor Susan Prince, JD. offered her take on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) wage and hours audits. Today, Prince’s 10 strategies for dealing with the audits, plus an introduction Compensation.BLR.com and an exclusive free FLSA checklist."

Prince’s 10 Strategies

The following are 10 great strategies to prevent or handle a wage and hour investigation:

  1. Avoid unfair compensation practices. Make sure employees are compensated in a consistent manner. If an employer’s pay practices are consistent, complaints are less likely to arise, and the employer will be in a better situation if the DOL does launch an investigation.
  2. Understand the regulations. It is important that employers take the time and make a concerted effort to understand and familiarize themselves with the FLSA. It is the law, and if employers fail to follow the law they may face litigation or a DOL audit.
  3. Train managers. Train managers so they are fluent in the language of the FLSA.
  4. Analyze state vs. federal law. Determine whether the state’s wage and hour laws conflict with federal law, then follow the law that is most beneficial to the employee.
  5. Pay past overtime due. If it is determined that an employee is wrongly classified as exempt, the employer should determine how many overtime hours the employee has worked in the past 2 years, then pay the employee the overtime due. The employer should also have the employee sign a release to free the employer from further liability. Paying past overtime due to employees now will be far less expensive than paying them in a DOL settlement.
  6. Respond to internal complaints expeditiously. If an employee files a wage and hour complaint internally, the employer should take it seriously. Since many investigations are prompted by an employee’s complaint, employers might be able to prevent an investigation by addressing an employee’s initial internal complaint.
  7. Seek compliance assistance from the DOL. Varied compliance tools and information are available on DOL’s website.


Big Money When DOL Comes Calling

"Although no industry is immune from a wage and hour investigation, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has targeted low-wage industries with vulnerable, and often immigrant, workforces, and those industries with a history of chronic violations, including garment manufacturing, agriculture, and health care."


Although no industry is immune from a wage and hour investigation, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has targeted low-wage industries with vulnerable, and often immigrant, workforces, and those industries with a history of chronic violations, including garment manufacturing, agriculture, and health care.


Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet Served with $2 Million Wage and Hour Bill

"Yesterday’s Advisor covered the G&K Services case in which one policy discriminated against both men and women (!). Today, an expensive wage and hour case, plus an introduction to the comprehensive wage and hour guide that will help prevent those expensive lawsuits."

In the Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet case, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has sued to recover nearly $2 million in unpaid wages and damages for 84 employees.

Specifically, the lawsuit is against Wang’s Partner Inc., doing business as Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet, and its owner, Shu Wang. The suit seeks to recover $1,997,726.


Supervisory Sin 7: Making Wage/Hour Blunders

"Yesterday’s Advisor featured the first six sins of supervisors. Today, sins 7 through 10, plus an introduction to a timely webcast that will help you find wage/hour problems (yes, you do have them) before the feds do."

[Go here for sins 1 through 6.]

Sin #7. Making wage\hour blunders

We’re out of overtime. Can you clock out and then set up for tomorrow?
You’ll be working alongside our regular employees, but you new recruits are all independent contractors.
Tracy, make sure you stay close to the phone during lunch.
Sandy, keep your phone near you evenings for calls from the West Coast.


10 Sins of Well-Meaning Supervisors

"How many ways can untrained supervisors and managers—with the best of intentions—beg for a lawsuit? Sometimes it seems like a thousand, but we’ve distilled it down into 10 major sins you can talk to your supervisors about (and you might as well include your managers)."

Sin #1. Making Unlawful Preemployment Inquiries

That’s an interesting accent you have. Where were you born?
Do you have any children? If so, will you have any daycare problems?
By the way, we’re all about diversity here.

Inappropriate questions during interviews and other preemployment contacts are a primary source for claims of discrimination. The courts generally assume that if you asked a question, you intended to use the answer as a factor in your hiring decision. Therefore, any questions about or references to protected categories like sex, age, race, national origin, or religion can later be used against you in court in a discrimination claim.


Compensable Travel Time Q&A

Travel pay actually poses a significant risk for wage and hour claims, not the least of which is because the details of what time is compensable are not always black and white. At a recent BLR webinar, Harold Pinkley of Butler Snow was on hand to lend his expertise on the matter. Here is a sampling of the employer questions he answered regarding travel time.


Travel Away from Home: How Much is Compensable?

Travel that keeps employee away from home overnight is travel away from home for the purposes of travel pay regulations. How much of this time is compensable?


Giants Bat $545 Thousand on Wage and Hour

"Yesterday’s Advisor presented two expensive back pay lawsuits. Today, we provide more suits, plus an introduction to the best way to avoid them—the wage and hour audit."

The San Francisco Giants baseball team paid $544,715 in back wages and liquidated damages to 74 employees after a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) investigation determined that the club failed to pay workers for half the hours they worked.

According to the DOL, clubhouse employees worked under an employment agreement that established a flat rate of pay of $55 for working 5.5 hours per day. However, investigators found that the employees actually worked an average of 12 to 15 hours daily, meaning they received less than the hourly federal minimum wage of $7.25 and were also not paid overtime.


Overnight Travel Pay—A Little Quirky, to Say the Least

Or, said another way, the Wage and Hour Division does not consider time spent traveling away from home as a passenger on a plane, train, boat, or bus outside of regular working hours as paid work time.

This is true for regular workdays during normal work hours, but also during the corresponding hours on nonwork days. For example, if an employee regularly works from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, travel time during those same hours is work time on Saturday and Sunday as well.


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