As the official unemployment rate continues to linger around 8 percent with the “real” unemployment rate being considerably higher, there are a growing number of legal claims be out of work employees who are financially desperate. Wage and hour claims are among the fastest growing type of employment law claims including claims based on failure to pay the earned amount of hourly pay, overtime compensation, bonuses and benefits. Missouri wage and hour claims may be based on either state law or the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If you are facing this type of claim, it is extremely important to seek legal advice promptly because these claims may result in class action designation, and they may include unpaid forms of compensation going back for up to six years depending on the state in which the claim is brought.
The first line of defense against a wage and hour claim in Missouri is to accurately compile and maintain records as required under state and federal law. While most employers are aware that the failure to keep proper payroll and time card records can result in penalties and fines, failure to keep these records will also expose you to liability in a wage and hour lawsuit from employees who claim they were not properly compensated. If you have not obtained legal advice about your record-keeping system and method of tracking employee work hours, you should consider consulting with a Missouri employment law attorney who can evaluate your procedures and policies to determine if you are in compliance with state and federal law. If employees are forced to clock in and out every day and sign their timecard daily, this is a good practice.
Another key area that lands employers in hot water is the improper classification of employees as exempt and non-exempt. By reviewing job titles, duties and responsibilities with a Kansas City employment lawyer, you can avoid misclassification of workers that can lead to enormous exposure in unpaid overtime litigation. A person who is supervising a single employee, for example, cannot necessarily be classified as an exempt employee so that the person can be paid a fixed salary unrelated to the number of hours. Even a high-level managerial employee will not always qualify as an exempt employee under sometimes ancient overtime statutes that may have been enacted during the forties.