The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), exists to ensure employees are not made to work long hours for unfairly low wages. In order to do this, the FLSA provides a federal minimum wage, and defines overtime as any time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week. The Act requires employers to pay all their workers one and one-half times their normal hourly rate of pay for all overtime worked. Some types of workers are exempt from this overtime requirement, but the FLSA is very specific about which workers can qualify for the exemption.
To start with, the employee must earn a salary of at least $23,600 per year and fit into one of three categories: administrative, executive, and professional. In order to qualify for the administrative category, an employee must perform primarily office work and provide administrative assistance directly to an executive. An employee in the executive category must spend the majority of her time managing other employees, be able to discipline those employees, and have direct say in the hiring and firing of those employees. The professional category covers all workers who require a particular set of skills or level of education to perform their job, such as doctors and performers.
If an employee thinks she may have been misclassified as exempt from overtime, when in fact her job description does not fit into any of the categories that qualify for the exemption, she can take it up with her superiors. If that doesn’t work, she can take them to court.
In one recent overtime class action lawsuit, an employee alleged Comcast failed to pay its Customer Account Executives (CAEs) for all the time they spent working. Because the lead plaintiff who filed the lawsuit worked for Comcast in the state of Pennsylvania, the class action lawsuit brought claims under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, as well as a claim of unjust enrichment.
If employees’ wages are too low and they work too many overtime hours without getting paid for the overtime they work, the result can be that their total wages divided by the total number of hours they worked equals less than the minimum wage (city, state, or federal minimum wage, whichever is higher). If that happened to employees of Comcast, an employee could file claims for failure to pay the minimum wage, as well as violations of overtime law.
Plaintiffs can also file for unjust enrichment in employment cases because a company that does not properly compensate its employees gains an illegal advantage over its competitors when it gets to count the extra earnings as profit and/or invest that money back into the company.
Comcast continues to deny it has done anything illegal, but the communications company has agreed to settle the lawsuit outside of court. The settlement covers all current and former employees who worked for Comcast as a CAE or in a similar position in the state of Pennsylvania any time from December 29, 2007 to October 2, 2015.
The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Chicago Ridge, Markham and Worth. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Tinley Park and South Chicago Heights overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers mis-classify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.