Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Do you know? The DOL is encouraging employee covert ops in your business

Six months ago, I wrote about the Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division’s launch of a one-stop web portal, We Can Help. Its stated purpose is to provide employees with information about their rights under federal wage and hour laws. At the time, I noted my concern that the most prominent part of this website is a section entitled, “How to File a Complaint.”

While trolling the We Can Help website over the weekend (yes, I know, the exciting life of an employment lawyer-cum-blogger), I came across a Work Hours Calendar [pdf]. The calendar encourages employees to track their arrival and leave times, start and stop times, meal breaks, and other breaks on a daily basis. The distinctions drawn between arrival versus start times and stop versus leave times suggests that the DOL is trolling for potential off-the-clock claims against employers. The calendar’s instructions shed some light on the DOL’s other goals, and lends further support to my belief that the DOL is prioritizing off-the-clock claims.

It is recommended that you keep all your pay stubs, information your employer gives you or tells you about your pay rate, how many hours you worked, including overtime, and other information on your employer’s pay practices. This work hours calendar should help you keep as much information as possible.

Employers must pay employees for all the time worked in a workday. “Workday,” in general, means all of the hours between the time an employee begins work and ends work on a particular day. Sometimes the workday extends beyond a worker’s scheduled shift or normal hours, and when this happens the employer is responsible for paying for the extra time. Usually, workers have to be paid for all the time that they work, including:

  • Waiting for repairs to equipment necessary for work
  • Time spent traveling between worksites during the workday
  • Time spent waiting for materials during the workday
  • Breaks less than 20 minutes long
  • Time spent completing unfinished work after a shift

The form ends with the following ominous statement:

You work hard, and you have the right to be paid fairly. It is a serious problem when workers in this country are not being paid every cent they earn. All services are free and confidential, whether you are documented or not. Please remember that your employer cannot terminate you or in any other manner discriminate against you for filing a complaint with WHD.

Still think you can afford to put off that wage and hour audit?

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.