The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that was put in place to prevent employers from taking advantage of their workers. The Act does this by providing a federal minimum wage, defining overtime, and requiring employers to pay all their hourly workers one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all overtime worked. There are some exceptions to the overtime requirement, but the FLSA is very specific about the types of employees that can work overtime without extra pay. In addition to the FLSA, each state and city has its own labor laws to protect the employees working in their area.
Employers sometimes try to avoid some of the requirements laid out by federal and local labor law by requiring employees to sign away certain rights. The rights employers have been known to require workers to sign away include the right to trial in the event of a dispute between the employer and the worker and, recently, the right to overtime compensation.
According to a wage and hour lawsuit, Cantor Fitzgerald Securities Inc. allegedly tried to force its tech support employees to sign a contract that would waive their right to overtime compensation. The plaintiff, Steven P., alleges the company owed him $100,000 in overtime compensation, but that the company offered to pay him half that if he agreed to sign away his right to the premium overtime compensation. Steven alleges the company encouraged several other employees to do the same.
Steven alleges the company knew that he and the other tech supporters had been illegally misclassified as exempt from overtime and the company allegedly asked them to submit records of all the overtime they worked from 2008 to 2014. The $51,000 Cantor Fitzgerald offered to pay Steven was allegedly to cover the overtime he worked from 2012 to 2014. When Steven asked why he wasn’t being compensated for the other four years of unpaid overtime work, the human resources director was allegedly unable to answer his question.
Cantor Fitzgerald continues to deny having done anything illegal, but has agreed to settle the wage and hour lawsuit for $140,000 in order to avoid the hassle and expense of further litigation. Steven will receive $100,000 and his attorney will receive the remaining $40,000.
Even defendants who are sure of their innocence often elect to settle lawsuits rather than continue to fight the legal dispute in the courts. Attorneys’ fees and costs can add up quickly and it can take time for both sides to present all the available evidence and argue their side.
After all that, you can never predict with 100% certainty which side a jury will favor, so it’s often more cost effective to agree on a sum to settle the dispute outside of court and avoid the potential for an even higher verdict from the jury, in addition to increased legal costs.
It’s also usually in the plaintiff’s best interest to settle outside of court because they get the assurance of getting paid a certain sum instead of risking a jury that rules against them, in which case they won’t be paid anything and will have to cover all their own legal fees and costs.
The current settlement is awaiting approval from a court judge before it can be finalized.
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 Island Lake, Volo and Lake Moor. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Grayslake and Round Lake Beach 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.