No employer likes to pay overtime. Many will simply prohibit their employees from working more than 40 hours in a week. And then they will subtly push the workers to finish the job anyway. Or they will simply ignore that work done beyond 40 hours is overtime, and instead pay those hours at regular straight-time rates.
Or they will engage in misclassification of employees, claiming they are independent contractors and therefore the “employer” is not responsible for the payroll deductions or any payment of overtime.
A group of New York plumbing and heating contractors settled a wage and hour case with the Department of Labor for $1.4 million in back pay and damages, after they were investigated and found to have failed to properly pay overtime, misclassification of employees into independent contractors and for failing to maintain proper records of payroll information.
The employers were in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) overtime and recordkeeping requirements. They likely “forgot” to keep accurate records in an attempt to hide their violations of overtime pay requirements. In addition, when they did pay overtime, it was done from a petty cash account instead of their normal payroll account, clearly in an effort to mask their illegal behavior.
Businesses that engage in this type of conduct not only harm their employees by wage theft, but other businesses as well. Honest competitors are unlikely to be able to outbid a contractor violating the FLSA by misclassifying employees and stealing their overtime.
If you suspect your employer is engaging in this type of illegal conduct, contact the Department of Labor or an employment attorney and help stop this criminal exploitation of workers.
Source: Dol.gov, “US Labor Department recovers more than $1.4M in back wages, damages for 300 employees of Long Island City plumbing and heating contractors,” 15-0470-NEW, April 21, 2015