OVERTIME WAGE CLAIMS AND RETALIATION BY AN EMPLOYER FOR ASSERTING A FORMAL OR INFORMAL CLAIM FOR OVERTIME WAGES
QUESTION: CAN AN EMPLOYER FIRE OR DEMOTE ME FOR COMPLAINING ABOUT OVERTIME WAGES NOT BEING PAID OR FOR PURSUING MY RIGHTS WITH AN ATTORNEY TO RECOVER OVERTIME WAGES?
ANSWER: NO! Such conduct is unlawful and subjects the Employer to additional damages. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) anti-discrimination provision protects employees asserting wage and hour rights. The FLSA prohibits any person from retaliating or otherwise discriminating against any employee who:
- Files a complaint or institutes a proceeding under the Act
- Testifies or is about to testify in any such proceeding
- Serves or is about to serve on an industry committee
The majority of Federal Courts extend protection to informal complaints asserted by employees if they involve wage and hour issues. The complaint must be based on a good faith belief that the employer is violating the FLSA or minimum wage or overtime pay provisions. In order to prevail in a retaliation or anti-discrimination complaint, you must prove that: a) You were engaged in a protected activity and b) the alleged retaliation or discrimination resulted from such activity.
What conduct constitutes retaliation and a violation of the FLSA? Just like all discrimination laws and civil rights laws, when an employer takes an adverse action against you for asserting your FLSA rights they are liable for damages and reasonable attorney's fees. Conduct held by Court to constitute unlawful retaliation includes:
- Termination or laying off the employee
- Demoting the employee resulting in a lower hourly pay or lesser salary
- Lowering the employees salary
- A significant reduction of job responsibilities
- Blacklisting the employee from future employment or advancement within the company
REMEDIES AND DAMAGES RECOVERABLE: WHAT AM I ENTITLED TO?
When an employee has been discriminated or retaliated against in violation of the FLSA, the employee may seek:
- Back pay or lost wages
- Liquidated damages, which is an award of money damages in the amount equal to the award for back pay or lost wages.
Some courts have awarded compensatory damages for mental anguish and emotional distress in retaliation cases. If the conduct was malicious, wanton and intended to harm the employee, the Court may award punitive damages.
If you have made an oral request from your employer for overtime wages or to question the employer about being treated as an "exempt employee" and the employer has subjected you to an adverse employment action such as: demotion, termination, or loss of pay or reduction in pay, the attorneys at Feldman Morgado can help you. We practice in the area of overtime wages and the FLSA and have a combined greater than 30 years of legal and courtroom experience in State and Federal Courts. We will fight for your rights and to obtain the compensation you are entitled to under the law.
All too often Employers seek to evade the FLSA overtime wage provisions by labeling their employees as "exempt" or classifying the employee as "salaried" wrongfully telling the employees that he or she is not entitled to overtime wages. Know the law as it applies to your employment and contact Feldman Morgado via email or telephone at one of their 4 offices: TAMPA, OCALA, NAPLES AND MIAMI. We never charge our client a fee in FLSA overtime wage cases, and can handle the case anywhere in the State of Florida or across the United States. We only get paid if we recover the wages.
The FLSA has a mandatory attorney's fee provision, meaning that if the employer has violated the FLSA and you recover overtime wages, the Employer must pay our attorney's fees directly. Additionally, the FLSA contains a mandatory liquidated damages provision, meaning that if your employer has unlawfully failed to pay you overtime wages, as a matter of law the employer owes you double the wages as a sanction, and this sum is not negotiable.
An employee only has 2 years to file suit to recover overtime wages, with the exception of the violation has been willful or intentional, and then you may be able to recover 3 years of wages. This is the statute of limitation in FLSA actions. Time is of the essence to contact an attorney who handles FLSA overtime wage provision. You could be losing thousands of dollars each week you delay in contacting a lawyer to review your case. Do not take your Employer's assertion of exemption under the FLSA as the law or as a fact. Contact Feldman Morgado and let us put your job to the various tests and determine if you are being shortchanged or cheated out of wages or compensation the law requires your employer to pay you.
And do not forget, it is unlawful for the employer to retaliate against you for claiming overtime wages. Act now, call or email us. We will evaluate your case for free and will have a response within 48 hours.
Florida's Whistleblower Act can also protect any employee who voices an objection to an employer refusing to pay employees overtime wages and he or she is subjected to an adverse employment action. Such conduct is unlawful and a violation of Florida's Whistleblower Act, and if you are the victim of such retaliation you have the right to recover wages, compensatory damages and possibly punitive damages.