Business Journal Reports: “Overtime lawsuits thrive in Florida’s Recession”


The Jacksonville Business Journal Reports: “Overtime lawsuits thrive in Florida’s recession
The article states:

Like unemployment, home foreclosures and bankruptcies, the number of lawsuits brought by employees alleging unpaid wages is also on the rise.

Nine Fair Labor Standards Act cases were filed during the first two weeks of January compared with three filed during the first quarter of 2008 and six filed in all of 2007 in the Jacksonville division of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Fowler White Boggs PA attorney Robert Riegel said in recent months he’s seen the largest increase in Fair Labor Standards Act cases in his 27-year career focusing on employment litigation. Because the recession is expected to continue, he doesn’t expect the caseload to slow down any time soon.

Riegel and other attorneys said that employees typically don’t file suit until after leaving their employer, and as the unemployment rate rises, so does the number of employees seeking unpaid overtime wages.

The growing number of overtime wage cases in the Jacksonville division, which includes the Jacksonville metropolitan area and outlying counties, mirrors a growing national trend, said Archibald Thomas, a partner at Thomas & Klink and the attorney representing Justin Wood, a former superintendent at Pulte Homes Corp. More disputes are settled before suits are even filed.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, one of the major pieces of the New Deal legislation drafted during the Great Depression, outlawed child labor and set a guaranteed minimum wage. Over the years, amendments to the law guaranteed employees other rights, including overtime pay.

Overtime pay is fairly easy to calculate for hourly employees who work more than the standard 40 hours, but is less easy to determine for salaried employees. The act lists a number of salaried jobs that are exempt from receiving overtime pay, including executives, management, professionals, outside sales associates and administrators.

The common thread in many of the recently filed cases, which range from pest control companies to country clubs, are that the employees received salaries, but allege they were due overtime pay.

Ed Trent, an attorney at Akerman Senterfitt who represents employers in labor disputes, but is not representing any of the employers in the cases filed in January, said many of the cases are a misunderstanding of the statute. “The intent of the employer is irrelevant. You either got it right or you didn’t.”

The Chicago wage claim attorneys at Lubin Austermuehle represent employees from all industries, jobs and backgrounds in claims for unpaid overtime pay. Federal law makes overtime a right — not a privilege that can be denied in order to save money for the employer. Nonetheless, too many employers tighten their belts by essentially stealing labor from their employees, by shaving hours off timecards, pressuring employees to work off the clock or incorrectly classifying them as exempt from overtime. Our Wheaton, Ill. employee rights attorneys handle both individual and class-action lawsuits from workers who are ready to stand up for their rights and collect hundreds or thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. Based in Chicago and Oak Brook, we represent or have represented clients throughout Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and all over the United States.

If you believe your labor has been stolen by an employer that consistently refused to pay overtime, the Chicago based attorneys at Lubin Austermuehle can help. To set up a free consultation with one of our Naperville, Aurora, Geneva or Chicago unpaid overtime attorneys, call us toll-free at 630-333-0333 or send us an email.

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