Overtime claims can be detrimental to your business. Successful plaintiffs will be entitled to: 1) the amount of unpaid overtime, plus; 2) “liquidated damages” in an amount equal to the pay employees should have received (i.e., double “back pay” for unpaid overtime); plus 3) reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. As always, the best defense against these lawsuits is to prevent them in the first place.
Preventing Claims Before They Happen
Businesses can take several steps to prevent overtime claims, and most are simple enough to implement without significantly changing your operations. The best way for your business to prevent these claims is to remove the need for overtime in the first place, by ensuring that employees are working efficiently during regular work hours and don’t need to dip into overtime to get the job done. Similarly, ensuring that every employee can work effectively so that the work doesn’t pile up and necessitate employees to work longer hours will cut down on their overtime.
Another highly effective strategy is to create an overtime policy that requires prior approval for an employee to work overtime. This also requires proper training for your supervisors, to ensure that only necessary overtime is approved and that employees won’t violate the policy. Even if an employee violates a policy that requires approval prior to working overtime hours, they must still be paid for that overtime.
Most importantly, businesses can prevent overtime claims simply by updating their work hour tracking system. Most often, businesses face overtime claims due to a simple issue in their records – whether it be human error or overtime fraud, your business will be able to fight back against these cases much easier with a more accurate system to track work hours. Paper records of time clocks make it easy to either purposefully or unintentionally misreport hours worked, opening your business up to litigation. The investment into a newer digital tracking system for work hours could save your business a lot of money by preventing these cases. This is particularly important because having reliable and accurate time records are many times one of the only ways to adequately defend against an FLSA lawsuit.
Defending Against Litigation
If it’s too late for your business to prevent an overtime claim, there are still ways to defend against the claim. The simplest and most effective defense is to demonstrate that the employee did not work the hours claimed by having a proper and reliable timekeeping system, ensuring employees are tracking time accurately, and through other complementary evidence, such as camera footage showing the employee leaving the premises during the claimed hours worked. Failure to keep reliable and accurate time records may prevent you from introducing testimony, or other evidence to contradict the plaintiff’s claims.
If your business needs to defend itself in court, don’t settle for anything less than the best in business litigation. Contact Trembly Law today at (305) 985-4571 to start protecting your business from these dangerous claims.