Twenty-nine workers were awarded a total of $60,911 after an investigation into their employer’s labor practices, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division conducted an investigation into the city of Frederick, Oklahoma and found that it had violated multiple provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), primarily through misclassification of its employees. The FLSA sets national minimums for overtime pay, minimum wage, and recordkeeping. Workers included police officers, as well as water, sewer, and electrical employees.
The FLSA requires employers to pay non-exempt employees at least the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25/hr) and overtime pay of one-and-one-half times the regular rate of pay for every hour workers over 40 in a single workweek. The DOL’s investigation found that Frederick had been misclassifying certain employees as “exempt,” meaning that they could not receive overtime compensation. Furthermore, some employees were made to work extremely long hours (up to 85 hours in a single workweek) but only paid straight time or given compensatory time off at straight time rates. Finally, the city did not keep detailed records of its employees hours worked and their wages.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has recently teamed up with the DOL ad individual states to crack down on the rampant misclassification of employees around the country. This practice strips state and federal governments of much-needed tax revenue and wrongly withholds deserved pay from dedicated workers. The DOL has produced statistics showing that up to 30% of employers misclassify workers and another study showed that some companies save up to 30% on payroll by misclassifying employees.
Misclassified employees are often denied overtime pay and benefits due to employee misclassification. If you believe that you have been misclassified or otherwise wrongly withheld pay for overtime or the minimum wage, you may be eligible to enter a lawsuit to recover this pay. Contact an experienced overtime lawyer to see if you could possibly receive compensation for back pay or unpaid overtime.