It is no secret that many employers fail to pay their employees what they rightfully earn. However, it appears that more employees are suing their employers over these unfair practices. The Federal Judicial Center recently released statistics that show, for the fifth year in a row, employees have filed more lawsuits against employers than last year. In federal court 7,754 lawsuits alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) were filed this year, up from 7,064 in 2012.
Wage and hour lawsuits dealing with hospitality workers was an area that saw a particularly high increase in lawsuits. One reason for this was because of increased targeting by the federal Department of Labor of unfair pay practices involving workers who receive tips, such as restaurant employees. Additionally, the stabilization of the economy may also be another reason for the increase in litigation. As companies start backing away from bankruptcy they become more attractive targets. New companies in particular are very susceptible to FLSA lawsuits.
It also seems that these lawsuits are generally on the rise from the past decade. Since 2003 wage and hour lawsuits have grown by 400%. According to the National Employment Law Project 68% of low wage workers report being required to work without full pay. It seems that the more widespread wage and hour violations become, the more that employees are encouraged to stand up for their rights and demand full pay under the law.
Although the statistics released by the Federal Judicial Center were nationwide, California litigation follows very similar trends. California employees have additional protections that employers often violate. For example, many small employers in states without state pay laws do not fall under the protection of the FLSA. In California however, all employees are required to be paid for overtime, unless they are exempt employees; and all employees are required to be paid a wage or salary at or above the minimum wage. The major exception for these rules is with independent contractors. One common area of contention between employers and workers is whether an employee is an independent contractor or an employee. To learn more about these distinctions contact a California attorney.
If you have been cheated by an employer the California employment law attorneys of the Law Offices of Michael S. Cunningham., LLP can help you recover your unpaid wages. We work on a contingent fee basis which means we do not get paid unless we get a settlement or judgment in your favor. To schedule a free consultation call (951) 213-4786 today.