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Class action: Florida company skirted overtime and wage laws

The recent spike in wage theft cases in Florida has been a frequent topic on this employment law blog. Of course, one of the most common methods of wage theft is failing to pay workers properly for overtime hours. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers must pay non-exempt workers time and one half for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a week.

A Florida-based company has recently been accused of avoiding paying overtime to its workers in the Midwest by having them use 'ghost timecards.' The employees, who cleaned retail stores, would list 40 hours on their own timecards and list their additional hours on a second timecard under another name. On payday, employees would receive a check that corresponded to their timecard and another that corresponded to the 'ghost timecard,' which was paid at straight time rather than overtime.

So far, 12 workers have joined the class action federal civil lawsuit against the Tampa-based maintenance company and it remains unclear how many workers may still be eligible to join.

The company, which has been sued for FLSA violations several times in the past, has denied the allegations. The company has stated that it does not have a policy against overtime or a policy of utilizing 'ghost timecards.' It suggested that perhaps one manager inappropriately made the decision to advise workers to misreport their time.

The case is expected to head to mediation later this month, and if it cannot be resolved out of court it will then go to trial. This case is an example of the legal options available to South Florida workers who have been victims of wage theft.

Source: Businessweek, "Did Florida-based company avoid paying overtime? A dozen Minnesota cleaners say yes," John Welbes, Nov. 5, 2012

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