This week, @Work Advice continues the discussion of wages and hours under the Fair Labor Standards Act, with legal perspective from Declan Leonard, managing partner of business law firm Berenzweig Leonard .
Reader: My son, a salaried employee, works well beyond eight hours in a shift. He sometimes gets early-morning calls and frequently stays late, works from home in his off time and comes in on weekends. He recently told me that when he completes his work in seven hours in a shift, his boss docks his pay by one hour. But there is no additional compensation when he goes over 40 hours a week.
Legal? No way.
An employer can’t have it both ways. If workers are exempt, they are paid the same salary regardless of whether they put in 40 or 60 hours in a week — and the boss can’t skim their paychecks for finishing up early on a Friday (see Department of Labor Fact Sheet No. 17G for the few exceptions). If an employer makes a regular habit of nickel-and-diming exempt workers when their hours fall short, the employer loses the exemption for those workers, and they become eligible for overtime pay.
Your son should file a complaint with the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division or consult an employment attorney for help winning reimbursement for those illegally docked hours. Considering how much more he would be entitled to if he were paid overtime, his employer should be only too happy to restore those docked wages.
Reader: My son was hired by a local pool management company. Prior to the summer season, the company held a mandatory three-hour orientation in a hotel meeting room. At the orientation, he and several hundred other employees were instructed on clocking in and out, dress code and other expectations and then met with their managers. My son wasn’t paid for this time.
Legal? Probably not.
“My sense is, this really should have been paid time,” says Leonard. As I discussed in a May 11, 2014, column, training hours have to be paid unless they meet four criteria, two of which are that attendance must be “voluntary” and the subject matter must not be job-related. If nothing else, the information passed along at this orientation was “part and parcel” of the job your son was hired to do, Leonard says.
If discussing the matter with HR doesn’t resolve the issue, a call to the DOL help line at 866-487-9243 may be in order ... by which I mean, your son should be talking to HR and calling the DOL. If he is a minor, you can best help by supporting him from the sidelines and, if need be, retaining a lawyer to contact the employer on his behalf.
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