How Many Are Working Off the Clock?

Did your company routinely violate the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act during 2010? What's your estimate of the percentage of the nation's companies honestly obeying the provisions, both in making OT payments and in designating employees corretly as exempt or non-exampt?

The New York State Department of Labor alone returned $18.7 million in unpaid minimum wages and overtime to workers during 2010. State Labor Commissioner Colleen C. Gardner said the recession "has made a bad problem even worse." The department settled with one employer for $1.9 million last year, and it predicts the Wage Theft Prevention Act, which takes effect April 12, 2011, will mean even more money is returned to workers because it raises the damages that can be collected for underpayments found due, over and above lost wages, from 25 percent to 100 percent.

The U.S. Department of Labor ended 2010 by announcing the settlement of an overtime enforcement case against CEMEX Inc., the largest U.S. supplier of cement and ready-mix materials. The settlement includes payment by CEMEX of $1,514,449 in OT back wages for 1,705 current and former ready-mix drivers who worked in Arizona, California, Florida -- where the investigation began -- and also Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.

"Ensuring that workers are paid their full wages is a top priority of this department," Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in the Dec. 30 news release. "This legal action involving more than $1.5 million in back wages for more than 1,700 employees is intended to ensure that the company complies with federal overtime laws now and in the future. Earning overtime pay is how many Americans make ends meet, even though working long hours often means significant sacrifices for workers and their families."

The department's Wage and Hour Division began its investigation in Tampa and claimed CEMEX systematicaly violated the act by failing to compensate "pay-per-load" employees with premium pay for more than 40 hours worked in a work week. The case was filed in 2008, and the two sides reached a settlement that was filed Dec. 20, 2010, in a Houston federal court. The settlement requires CEMEX to pay the back wages and comply with the act in the future or risk being found in contempt.

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Posted by Jerry Laws on Jan 03, 2011