As employer brace for the big change to the federal overtime pay rule that will go into effect on Dec. 1, there are probably a few businesses that will be tempted to skirt a rule that they view as unreasonably expensive.
But recently-released research on wage and hour lawsuits should serve as a reminder to employers to take the law seriously.
The research by TSheets, the time management software provider, shows that wage and hour lawsuits have increased 450 percent in the past 20 years. Last year, 8,781 employees sued employers over wage or hour violations, up from only 1,580 in 1995.
Similarly, 75 percent of suits initiated by the U.S. Department of Labor against employers resulted in financial payouts to employees, the research finds.
Accommodation and food services produced by far the greatest number of wage suits, followed by health care and social services, retail, construction and manufacturing.
Separately, a recent court case in Connecticut is a reminder that, while much of the controversy over sick leave centers on employees who are prevented from taking the time off they need to recuperate from an illness or injury, sometimes employers are the ones insisting that employees take more time off the job.
At issue is the “enhanced” fitness for duty certification that employers can require employees returning to work to receive from a physician when they return to work after a Family and Medical Leave Act leave. The enhanced certification requires physicians to undertake a deeper assessment of the employee’s ability to perform their job.
A municipal employee in Milford, Connecticut, sued the city after it required her to present an enhanced fitness certification at the end of her FMLA leave. A judge sided with the city, ruling that it was within its rights to demand the higher level of proof that the worker was ready to return to work.
There are strict rules about how employers can use the enhanced fitness certifications. If a business believes that it may demand such certifications in certain instances, it should establish a uniform policy that applies to either all employees or at least all employees in certain job classifications. The demand of the certification cannot be viewed as arbitrary.