According to the Federal Judicial Center, in 2015 there were a record 8,957 cases filed asserting claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal law that establishes minimum wage, overtime and record keeping requirements for employees employed in the United States. Five hundred and fifteen (515) of those lawsuits were filed in the Southern District of Texas, an 85% increase from employment cases filed in 2010. The attorneys at Munsch Hardt have noticed these filings are keeping an unrelenting pace in 2017.
When a client must defend claims of wage and hour violations under FLSA, it is essential to have experienced counsel prepared to provide the powerful defense these cases demand. At Munsch Hardt, we recognize defending wage and hour litigation can cause extreme hardship to a client's business. Without proper representation, employers face potential liability that includes treble damages and liability for plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees.
Our FLSA experts have defended clients facing allegations for failure to pay wages owed, minimum wage and, more commonly, failure to properly pay overtime wages, bonuses and per diems. These actions often stem from allegations involving:
- Meal and rest breaks not granted
- Employee mis-classifications (non-exempt employees classified as exempt)
- Compensatory time not granted for hours worked before or after shift
- Failure to pay overtime or spread-of-hours pay
- Other wage and hour claims
Our team offers both deep experience and a strong track record when it comes to defending clients against FLSA matters. We frequently manage “bet-the-company” cases, and in these instances, we are proud to successfully have won cash judgments for clients unjustly accused of infractions.
What steps can my company take before a lawsuit or enforcement proceeding is initiated?
- Have Munsch Hardt visit to conduct an audit. This not only helps keep your policies current, but also reduces your damage exposure should you be subject to an FLSA lawsuit.
- Utilize employment agreements containing arbitration provisions in order to avoid collective action litigation.
- Review your employment and compensation policies to ensure they are in compliance with both federal and state laws.
- Determine which of your workers are employees and which are independent contractors, then properly classify each.
- Remain diligent about recordkeeping and accurately reflecting hours worked. The absence of recordkeeping will be utilized against the employer.
What do I do when a lawsuit or enforcement proceeding is initiated?
If you are served with a lawsuit, it will typically come from a plaintiff attorney or group of plaintiff attorneys representing the affected parties, or the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
You want a proactive, assemblying a team of experienced attorneys. If you hear from a plaintiff attorney, contact Munsch Hardt and we will conduct an immediate and thorough audit of your current pay practices. We will help you alter your compensation plans to ensure it complies with all current regulations. We will also work towards an amicable solution with the plaintiff lawyers, who are more likely to be reasonable and settle with an experienced, aggressive team on your side.
At Munsch Hardt, we understand the potential damages in these FLSA overtime and minimum wage cases can be expensive to litigate and even expensive to settle without going to trial. While we offer reasonable rates and manage our time extremely efficiently, we also believe in certain situations it important to stand-up against FLSA allegations. In our experience, once a business gives into one complaint, many are sure to follow. Fighting the first battle will inevitably end, or at the very least significantly reduce, the challenges of such allegations by other current or former employees.