The Endless Work Day and Salaried Employees: Unpaid Overtime

By Peter Levine posted in Employment Law, Unpaid Overtime on August 28th, 2013

Work until the job is finished

A common practice of many employers in today’s weak job market is to expect “salaried” employees to work until the job is finished, often 12 or more hours in a day. The employer benefits from hours of labor that are free and are essentially unpaid overtime. While most workers are not in a position to confront employers about the situation, high level management might have the right method to address the problem.

Achieving balance: Working a 9-to-5 schedule

“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids. I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it’s not until the last year, two years that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now I certainly wouldn’t lie, but I wasn’t running around giving speeches on it.”

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg prompted a number of questions when, in a video posted on, she told an interviewer that she works a 9-to-5 schedule, namely “whatever happened to ‘work-life balance’?”

Many hope to take the shame out of achieving that balance.
Mashable Reader Jason Hunter commented “…5:30 as an on average time for going home should be acceptable for everyone — single or not single … family or no family — assuming you don’t come into the office everyday at 11 a.m.”

The ability to work flexibly is a perk

Too often across all industries, the ability to work flexibly is a perk – one that has to be earned over the course of one’s career, or something that’s on the books, but only approved in special cases.

A report from the Council of Economic Advisers, commissioned for a 2010 White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility, shows flexibility is a best practice with many benefits including: increased productivity, reduced turnover and absenteeism, and higher morale and company commitment.

Sandberg’s admittance reminds us of just how little we’re asking for when we ask for flexibility – getting home to have dinner with our families, or taking an ailing parent to the doctor.

We know that workers of all ages and genders and across all industries want more control over how and where they work so they can have a life, with or without family. Until we lift the stigma to flexible work arrangements, we can anticipate that workers will be wary of actually taking advantage of them. It’s up to both employers and employees to re-establish the “balance” in “work-life balance.”

Apple sued for unpaid wages and overtime compensation

By Peter Levine posted in Law, Unpaid Overtime on August 25th, 2013

Apple required off-the-clock security bag searches

Two former Apple Inc. retail employees have sued the tech giant for “millions of dollars” for unpaid wages and overtime compensation. They allege hourly employees had to wait in line and undergo off-the-clock security bag searches after they had clocked out.

Amanda Frlekin alleges when she clocked out for her uncompensated meal breaks and at the end of her shift, she waited for at least five to 10 minutes, without compensation, as other employees had their bags checked. In total this comes to about 50 minutes to 1.5 hours a week of unpaid overtime, totaling to about $1,500 in wages not paid over the course of a year.

The other plaintiff, Dean Pelle, is making similar claims about required bag inspections when he worked in Apple’s stores.

Like other retail employees, the company’s employee conduct manual specifies that all employees are subject to personal bag searches, and if refused employees, can be subject to termination.

Apple charged with California Labor Code violations

The plaintiffs allege by not compensating its retail workers for this waiting time, Apple has violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as the California Labor Code for nonpayment of the minimum wage, overtime wages and wage statement penalties, in addition to the California Unfair Competition Law for “unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice,” and New York Labor Law for nonpayment of wages and unpaid overtime.

Yana Walton, communications director for the retail worker advocacy group, Retail Action Project, stated her organization has “secured back wages for hundreds of retail workers who have experienced wage theft” in New York City.

“Unfortunately, retail workers experience wage theft in many ways, and like employees at Forever 21 and Polo Ralph Lauren who filed similar suits, unpaid mandatory job functions are tantamount to wage theft,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Apple told ABC News that the company does not comment on pending litigation. The plaintiffs and their attorneys did not respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

Frlekin and Pelle are hoping to expand their lawsuit into a class action that represents Apple retail employees over the past three years. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs are also hoping to represent retail employees in Apple’s California and New York stores for even longer periods, the Associated Press reported.

We’re Too Busy for a Break

By Scott posted in Unpaid Overtime on August 16th, 2013

If you have ever worked an hourly wage position, you probably heard in training that the employer was “required” to give you a 30-minute lunch break every shift over a certain number of hours. Employers make a big deal about legal responsibility and break times, yet many employees experience times when they are forced to work through their lunch hour because it was “just too busy” that day.

It is true that a 30-minute meal break is required under California Law for every 5 hours worked by each employee. This means that the employee must take a complete break from any and all work duties. If they are answering phone calls, returning phone calls, answering questions, updating records or anything else they are not on an uninterrupted lunch break.

If you work an 8.0 hour day without a lunch break, you should be credited with 30 minutes of overtime pay. What this basically means is that for every 30 minute lunch break the employer fails to give the employee, they must pay that employee for one hour of work time. An employer cannot claim that an employee waived their right to lunch if the employee chooses to work through lunch because they are too busy and there is no one available to relieve them.

Violations of this law have led to serious lawsuits for employers. A large retail store was required to pay more than $170 million in compensatory damages to approximately 116,000 employees who worked at several of the retailer’s California stores. If you feel that your right to a lunch break has been violated in any way do not be afraid to seek the advice and assistance of an employment law attorney.

Employment Lawyer Los Angeles – Peter K. Levine

Source: Dateline USA “Automatic 30-minute deductions for lunch may be illegal” Joe Sayas 9/14/10

Lawsuit seeks class action status for unpaid overtime

By Scott posted in Unpaid Overtime on August 16th, 2013

Two former utility workers have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that they were forced to work extra hours, but were not compensated for the overtime hours they worked. The lawsuit claims the company had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, and is seeking unpaid wages and punitive damages.

The attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the two former employees is also seeking class action status, which would allow other former and current employees with similar complaints to also join in on the lawsuit. The claim is that all of the hourly customer service associates who worked for the company for at least the past three years were forced to work in excess of 40 hours per week, but were not compensated for their time.

According to the two employees who filed the recent lawsuit, they were required to work more than 40 hours a week but were not paid for their overtime, which should have been time and a half of their regular pay. Part of this overtime pay also stems from supposedly having to come in earlier before shifts to prepare work spaces and cash drawers, and then have to also continuing working after clocking out to count their cash drawer and deposits.

In addition to the unpaid overtime, the lawsuit also claims that the company forced them to work through breaks, and that they were not paid for their lunch breaks.

One of the employees who filed the lawsuit said that she was considered a “floating” associate who would sometimes have to travel to three different company locations during the day, but that she was not paid for her travel time.

Looking to the future of this case, an attorney for the former employees is seeking class action status, but there is no word yet on how many employees that could potentially include.

Source: San Antonio Express, “SAWS hit with lawsuit on pay,” Guillermo Contreras, 18 May 2011

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