From the Houston Chronicle, L.M. Sixel shares her conversation with attorney Rex Burch who has extensive experience recovering unpaid wages and overtime from employers. His observation that employees will overlook a lot of things is spot on; the biggest risk for a misclassification lawsuit is not the legal risk, it’s the disgruntled worker. L.M. shares great information from her conversation with L.M. Sixel:
Q: What are the most common wage and hour violations?A: The three most common are paying someone a salary and thinking they don’t get overtime, misclassifying someone as an “independent contractor” and then not paying them overtime and third, not capturing all the compensable time someone works. For example, a receptionist who eats her lunch at her desk while answering the phone is still working, but companies often consider it an unpaid lunch break….
Q: What’s happening with all the unpaid overtime lawsuits filed by oil field workers who were paid as either independent contractors or receive day rates that did not include overtime?
A: One of the greatest embarrassments in my life and working in wage and hour law is that I somehow missed what was going on in the oil and gas industry until about five years ago. When I started getting into it, I found an industry awash in wage and hour violations. To their credit, a lot of oil and gas companies have taken steps to improve compliance.Q: How did they get away with it?
A: The oil and gas industry typically pays people more. We had one guy who went from being a pizza delivery driver to sweeping out debris from the drilling mud. He was making six figures. Is that guy going to rock the boat? Some of the recoveries have been enormous. Many oil field workers have recovered more than $100,000 each in back pay.
Q: What have you learned about power dynamics in your two decades as a wage and hour lawyer?
A: If you are a good to your employees, they will overlook a lot of legal sins. Employees who treat their employees decently can get away with a lot of stuff. But if you are a bad employer, your employees will look to punish you.
Many people who call me aren’t calling about wages. They call because they got fired, they were denied a promotion or the company took away their company car. I tell them I can’t do anything about your termination, but the good news is your employer owes you $40,000 in back wages and we can go get it.
Read the full story at Another reason to be nice to workers: They’re less likely to file lawsuits