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Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Settles Overtime Lawsuit Where Workers Claimed They Were Required to Work Off the Clock


The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that was put in place to protect workers from employers who might try to take advantage of them. In order to prevent this, the FLSA sets a minimum wage that all employers throughout the country must adhere to.

The FLSA also requires employers to pay all their hourly workers one and one-half times the employee’s normal hourly wage for all overtime worked. The FLSA defines overtime as any time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours in a week. The FLSA does make some provisions for certain employees to be held exempt from these overtime regulations, but the law is very specific about the types of employees that can qualify for this exemption.

Some employers like to push the boundaries of these labor laws to get the most out of their employees while keeping costs down. Some of the tactics they use are illegal, but many workers don’t know the rights provided to them by the law and their employers sometimes take advantage of their ignorance.

In order to keep track of the amount of time employees spend working, many businesses use a shift system in which employees work certain shifts of a predetermined length and are paid accordingly. However, some employers try to get extra work out of their employees by requiring them to fulfill certain pre-shift and post-shift duties. When employers don’t pay their hourly workers for the time spent on these mandatory, work-related activities, they are in violation of the law.

A recent wage and hour class action lawsuit claims that the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) allegedly illegally required its employees to do work off the clock before starting their transit runs without paying them for that time. The plaintiffs allege, not only that they should be paid for that time, but that, because the work was in addition to their scheduled shifts, these responsibilities qualify as overtime. Therefore, the transit workers allegedly should have been paid one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all the pre-shift work they performed.

SEPTA continues to deny having done anything illegal, but has agreed to settle the wage and hour lawsuit for $13.1 million. The parties have filed a joint motion for the court to approve the settlement.

Before the legal dispute is resolved, the court must scrutinize the settlement to make sure it is fair to all parties. Only then can SEPTA begin sending out checks to class members and put the matter behind them once and for all.

For large class action lawsuits, such as this one, it often makes the most sense for both parties to settle the lawsuit, rather than go to trial. That way, both parties can avoid the expense of a long and costly lawsuit that can drag on in the courts for years. At the end of the day, there’s usually no telling which way a jury will rule. It depends on myriad factors, so it’s often much more cost effective for the defendant to settle the lawsuit outside of court and avoid the possibility of paying much higher fines, in addition to the legal fees and costs associated with taking a dispute to trial. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs forego the possibility of getting more money at trial (or not getting any) in favor of the certainty of getting paid.The attorneys at Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience litigating wage and hour cases, including overtime, vacation pay, meal breaks, and tips against Mortgage Brokerage, Real-Estate Brokerages, financial services companies and private security firms. We have offices conveniently located in Oak Brook and Chicago, Illinois. Contact the Elmhurst and Cicero overtime lawyers and attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center today at 312-869-4095. We are looking to represent financial advisor associates, loan and mortgage brokers who have not been paid overtime and have been mis-classified as managers.