It appears more and more workers are taking their employers to court for wage and work hour violation claims. This spike in wage theft claims is mostly being attributed to tough economic conditions, increased enforcement by the government, and the lack of proper HR management systems such as time attendance software.
Federal judicial caseload statistics indicate that wage theft lawsuits have already soared to a record level. As of July, 2012, there had already been 7,064 lawsuits filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which is the existing law that governs wage and work hour provisions. In comparison, there were 7,006 lawsuits filed in all of 2011. Interestingly, the number of cases filed just a decade ago stands at 2,035.
As noted above, one reason for this increase in lawsuits is the fact that the government has increased vigilance in handling such matters. The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor collected more than $224 million worth of back wages from employers for more than a quarter of a million workers in the last fiscal year.
“The Wage and Hour Division has stepped up enforcement efforts on behalf of vulnerable workers — such as low-wage workers, migrant or seasonal laborers, workers with limited English language skills and workers who are unaware of their rights or are reluctant to file a complaint when subject to labor violations,” said Sonia Melendez, a spokesperson for the WHD.
A majority of today’s wage fraud lawsuits comprise of the misclassification of employees, complaints relating to uncompensated work performed off the clock, and inaccuracies in the calculation of overtime pay. Many of these claims deal with outmoded state and federal laws, which were established without the foresight of technology like automated time clocks and HR software. In addition, there seems to be a lack of clarity in existing laws, which creates confusion in regards to the classification of workers that need to be paid for overtime. The lucrative recovery figures from such cases, especially in some of the recent high-profile class action lawsuits, are getting the attention of employees and their lawyers.
How can technology help?
Since most of the FLSA violation claims are associated with the miscalculation of, or non-payment of overtime, technology such as employee time management systems can make or break a case. Automated time clocks and online attendance software can help employers avoid potential litigation and costly penalties. Some of these systems are capable of identifying employees using biometric features through fingerprint or facial recognition, ensuring there is no chance of erroneous payroll recording. Once the employee’s particular physiological features have been saved into the system, advanced timekeeping software records individual punches to mark attendance. The work hour data is automatically recorded in real-time, eliminating any possibility of human error. This not only leaves little room for a potential lawsuit, but also ensures that employers’ interests are being served because employees cannot engage in time theft practices.
Article courtesy of Chad Buckmaster of uAttend. For more information about uAttend, visit their website.