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Wage and hour disputes were up in 2013, may continue this year

Debate and commentary over minimum wage laws seems to be garnering a great deal of attention these days all across the country. But, there is another area where businesses may be short-changing workers, regardless of minimum or agreed upon wages that are above the minimum wage. Wage and hour disputes and the failure to pay overtime are issues that have been finding their way into courtrooms in New York—and in other states across this nation.

In some cases, an employer may seek to misclassify workers to avoid paying overtime at all. A federal law known as the Fair labor Standards Act is the source of the federal minimum wage. It also sets other standards in how workers should be paid. While some executive, sales or other types of jobs may be exempt from the provisions regarding overtime pay, most jobs in the United States are non-salaried (or hourly) positions and hourly workers should be paid overtime. There are different tests that may apply to individual jobs in determining whether a job is exempt or not.

What appears to be happening with more frequency involves disputes over wage and hour laws under the FLSA that are being taken to court. Last year, there were roughly 10 percent more wage and hour claims filed in U.S. courts than were filed in 2012.

Employment law disputes, including wage and hour claims and workplace discrimination lawsuits, are expected to continue to increase in 2014. Commentators who watch employment law issues say that whistleblower lawsuits are also likely to be hot-button topics this year.

We have discussed a variety of individual cases and issues that can arise in these areas of employment law on this blog. As we move through 2014, the issues that workers face in New York employment disputes will continue to be of concern.

Source: Wall Street Journal, “Law 2014: Within Employment Discrimination, It’s a Wage-and-Hour World,” Ashby Jones, Dec. 30, 2013

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