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Employer Wage-and-Hour Violation of Laws

Illegally stealing tips from servers is not rare in the restaurant world. Owners of single restaurants and franchises within large chains have been known to steal their employees' tips. They do this when tips are pooled, that is, paid into a pot to be properly distributed among servers, but are instead partly diverted to others like busboys to ostensibly raise their salaries to meet minimum wage. Of course, this deprives the servers of their rightfully earned tips which is usually a large part of their income. A lot of legal cases are brought and won by servers against the restaurants they work in. The law can provide multiples of the stolen wages to the aggrieved workers, so these cases have to be taken seriously.

Another type of wage and hour violation is the subject of suits across the nation. Schneider, a huge trucking company whose orange trucks are all over the country's highways, just settled such a claim for $21 million. Its hundreds of warehouse workers brought a class action against Schneider for working overtime, sometimes putting in 70 or more hours a week, but getting paid only straight time instead of the legal time and a half. The suit alleges that some of the workers also worked months at a time without a day off. They were still not paid overtime.

In other industries, employers have been known to erase workers' hours from time sheets to avoid paying overtime rates. A federal appeals court in California ruled a couple weeks ago that FedEx had illegally avoided paying its drivers overtime by falsely classifying them as independent contractors instead of employees. Although FedEx has said it will appeal the ruling, it's hard for me to imagine that it will prevail since it provides the delivery equipment and exercises a good amount of control over the drivers. To get a fair deal from employers, it might pay to watch for violations like these.


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