Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wage and hour litigation hits the big time

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has also picked up this week's BusinessWeek cover story on the proliferation of wage and hour litigation and collective actions. The Journal quotes Rochester, New York, employee-side attorney J. Nelson Thomas, "This is the biggest problem for companies out there in the employment area by far. I can hit a company with a hundred sexual harassment lawsuits, and it will not inflict anywhere near the damage that [a wage and hour suit] will." Indeed, Mr. Nelson's law firm's website lists nine separate wage and hour class action lawsuits it is currently handling, against businesses such as Dick's Sporting Goods and NVR, Inc. (aka Ryan Homes), and as a reference for potential clients links to news articles on a half-dozen other successful multi-million dollar lawsuits for back overtime. I cannot stress enough, do not assume that your salaried employees are not entitled to overtime, and do not wait for Mr. Thomas to knock on your door before you figure out whether all of your employees are properly classified and are being paid all to which they are legally entitled. An internal wage and hour audit may cost a few extra dollars up front in legal expenses, but will be immeasurably less expensive in time, aggravation, and actual dollars than defending a wage and hour lawsuit.