Offit Kurman’s Overtime and
Fair Labor Standards Act Practice
Imagine the following scenario: You are the owner of a business. You are investing time and money and dedicating your life to making this business successful. You have been in business for a decade and have managed to make the business profitable, but the margins are relatively thin. You have purchased insurance to guard against many of the things that can go wrong. Then, a couple of unhappy former employees see a television commercial from a law firm advertising minimum wage and overtime lawsuits. These former employees file a class action lawsuit on behalf of a class of employees alleging they were underpaid and seeking not just the unpaid wage, but triple that amount plus attorney’s fees. You may have an insurance policy that defrays some of the costs associated with such a lawsuit, but, generally speaking, there are no policies that will cover the reimbursement of unpaid wages. So, after pouring your heart and soul into your business, the entire operation may collapse under the pressure of a minimum wage/overtime lawsuit.
ABOUT RUSSELL BERGER
Russell Berger is the trusted legal counsel every business owner needs to feel confident in their decision-making and secure with their assets. He is a pragmatic problem-solver that works efficiently and tirelessly to present his clients the best possible solutions to their most complicated issues. As an accomplished, Principal attorney and Chair of the Labor and Employment Practice, Mr. Berger provides business counsel to employers on employee matters and is well-versed in litigating in both state and federal courts. He represents employers, businesses, and professionals in employment disputes across the nation
Questions About Overtime and Fair Labor Standards Act ?
Risk Mitigation and Counseling – Reducing Risk Through Proactive Steps
Given the increasing risk of minimum wage/overtime litigation, the additional damages that are available to employees in such lawsuits, and the costs associated with litigation generally, the best defense strategy is to avoid litigation altogether. While there is no guaranteed method of avoiding litigation, employers can reduce their risks by revising policies to be compliant with all applicable laws and taking the steps necessary to ensure actual practices are consistent with compliant policies. Given the extinction-level threats resulting from failure to maintain wage and hour compliance, it is critical for employers to understand their obligations and to install practices that minimize these risks.
Litigation – Strategies for Defense
While the risks of overtime litigation can be reduced through proactive compliance, lawsuits can still happen. This is no surprise given that nearly 25% of the civil cases brought in federal court throughout the country include overtime claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Lawsuits arising under the FLSA present unique challenges that do not exist in most civil lawsuits. For example, the FLSA contains a provision that allows an aggrieved employee to recover twice the amount of the alleged unpaid wage; most states have a similar law (in Maryland, an employee can recover triple the amount of the unpaid wage claim). This same law also permits an employee to recover his or her attorney’s fees from the employer. Furthermore, FLSA and overtime claims come with the possibility of other employees joining the lawsuit through either a collective action or a class action. Litigation of FLSA and overtime lawsuits requires an understanding of how the potential threat of a class, additional damages, and fee shifting impact the specifics of the litigation. Of course, these issues have to be assessed along with the specific overtime liability and damages issues.
Russell B. Berger – Experienced Overtime Lawyer
Russell B. Berger, the Chair of Offit Kurman’s Labor and Employment Law Practice, is an experienced labor and employment attorney who frequently counsels businesses with respect to FLSA and overtime compliance. Mr. Berger is also engaged by businesses to defend them when they find themselves threatened by an overtime lawsuit.