Wage theft is a serious problem that affects thousands of people. There are many different ways employers can steal money from their employees, including forcing them to work off the clock, not paying overtime, paying less than minimum wage, and refusing to pay the agreed salary. Many times, employees need to keep their job or are afraid to stand up to large companies that mistreat them.
Fortunately, workers don’t have to face this kind of injustice on their own. Wage theft attorneys, like our partner John Fabry, can help them get the compensation they deserve.
Baylor Scott and White Workers Allege Wage Theft
A group of advanced practice providers from Baylor Scott & White Health recently asked a federal judge to find their employer liable for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by denying them overtime pay. Though Baylor Scott & White claims their employees were exempt from overtime pay because they were salaried workers, all evidence shows that the employees were paid an hourly wage. Further, they were unfairly denied time-and-a-half compensation for the time they worked over the scheduled 40 hours a week.
The workers state that from April 2017 to October 2019, their employers told them to clock in and out of a timekeeping system. They were then paid by the hour according to the time they clocked into the system. Because they logged their time in the system and were paid accordingly, Baylor Scott & White can’t classify them as overtime-exempt, salaried workers.
Additionally, when all of the managers of each worker were asked whether the employees were salaried or were paid by the hour, all of the managers said that the workers were paid by the hour for the time they submitted into the timekeeping system. Further, the written communications between the pay administrators and the workers state that employees “will be paid for exactly the time they are clocked in at the hospital.”
With all of this evidence, Baylor Scott & White was unable to deny that the employees were paid at hourly rates instead of a salary. The company also admitted that it did not pay its workers properly under the Fair Labor Standards Act. However, they blamed the employees for not complaining enough, citing a policy that they had never informed the workers of.
How do Employers Typically Defend Themselves Against Wage Theft?
The “windows of corrections affirmative defense” is a defense that employers who are accused of improperly deducting worker salaries can use to protect themselves. If the employers can prove that deductions were inadvertent and isolated, they can retain their employees’ overtime-exempt status. In simple terms, this defense protects employers that paid their employees too little, only a few times and by mistake.
However, this shouldn’t protect Baylor Scott and White or other companies following these same practices. First, the deductions were not isolated incidents. The workers report that their employers frequently subtracted pay from their salaries when they worked less than 40 hours a week.
In fact, Baylor Scott and White had sent each of the workers an Audit Report that showed every time they clocked out before the end of a scheduled shift. The reports were meant to justify the hourly pay they had received instead of their salary. The Audit Reports showed an average of 118 underpayments per employee and an average of $4,200 in pay reductions per employee. These reports prove that the reductions in pay were very frequent, not isolated.
The other reason that Baylor Scott and White can’t use the window of corrections defense is that the deductions were not inadvertent. There was no mistake in the deductions; rather, the company intentionally paid the employees on an hourly basis.
“There was nothing inadvertent about defendants’ requiring plaintiffs to clock in and clock out for every shift they worked … and there was nothing inadvertent about defendants paying plaintiffs an hourly rate based solely on the amount of time they worked,” the workers said. “These were all intentional actions by defendants.”
Our partner, John Fabry, joins David Kern in representing the employees. Together, they will ensure that these workers get fair compensation for their work.
How does the Fair Labor Standards Act Protect Employees from Wage Theft?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards. It affects part-time and full-time workers in the private sector and in local, state, and federal government. The FLSA serves as powerful legislation to ensure workers get the pay their employers owe them. If the employer violates the FLSA, the government can hold them accountable for their unlawful actions.
What does the FLSA say about overtime pay?
The FLSA clearly states that eligible employees must get extra pay for the time they work over 40 hours in one workweek. Additionally, the overtime pay must be no less than one and
one-half their normal rate of pay. The government defines a workweek as 168 hours, or seven consecutive 24-hour periods. Employers cannot average the hours worked in two or more weeks. Rather, they must pay based on the hours worked in one week.
Who is eligible for overtime pay?
Each agency’s Human Resource Office has the responsibility to determine whether each position is eligible for overtime pay. The eligibility is based on criteria set by the US Department of Labor. Generally, employees who work in executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales positions are not eligible for overtime pay if they make at least $684 per week.
How to Prepare for a Wage Theft Claim
Are you thinking about filing a claim for wage theft? If so, you need a caring and experienced attorney to help you get fair compensation. To help you win your case, your attorney will probably ask you to gather some evidence. Here’s what you can do to prepare for a wage theft claim.
- Gather documents. You’ll need to gather documents like paystubs and logs or records of time that you worked.
- Include hiring paperwork. Make sure to include the paperwork you signed when you were hatred, including any arbitration agreements.
- Add timekeeping instructions. Add in any instructions, either written or spoken, about clocking in and out, as well as any other ways of tracking time.
- Collect written communication. Collect any written communication with supervisors about time you worked and pay, including emails, chats, and text messages.
- Ask your coworkers. Ask your coworkers if the same thing is happening to them. Wage theft claims are often more successful with larger groups.
- Check for other locations. Does your employer have multiple locations where the same thing might be happening to other employees?
The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
We understand that filing a wage theft claim might be intimidating, but you don’t have to go through it alone. A caring and compassionate legal team can walk you through the process step by step. However, a Wage Theft Attorney can help our clients get the justice they deserve. If you need help with a wage theft claim, call an experienced and caring wage theft attorney today. We care, and we can help.