Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Wage and Hour Department (WHD) announced that they recovered over $1.1 million in back wages after a Texas-based company withheld wages owed to employees. Additionally, the DOL encouraged all employers to utilize its employee Timesheet app to better record hours worked, overtime, breaks, and compute total wages. The agency stressed that its tool can help prevent errors that lead to wage and hour violations. In an earlier wage settlement, a Georgia-based contractor paid over $693 thousand in unpaid overtime wages.
Background and Settlement in the Withheld Wages Case
According to the WHD’s investigation, the company, which provides water reclamation services for the energy industry, failed to make payrolls on two occasions. These missed payrolls resulted in withheld wages for workweeks ending on December 26th, 2022, and January 8th, 2023. Subsequently, the missed payrolls caused minimum wage and overtime violations. The WHD has since recovered over $1.1 million in back wages for 238 employees as claimants under the case.
Wage and Hour Law Under the FLSA
The FLSA is the nation’s primary wage and hour law. Along with several other most commonly cited employment laws, it is crucial that employers understand and comply with the FLSA. Any illegal pay practices that lead to withheld wages are a violation of the FLSA and applicable state and local wage and hour laws. Investigators who discover withheld wages and overtime pay at an employer’s establishment can submit their findings as evidence during a costly wage and hour lawsuit. Therefore, employers must comply with the federal minimum wage and overtime rules as established under the FLSA. Currently, the FLSA entitles covered workers to the following minimum wage and overtime pay requirements:
- The federal minimum wage of not less than $7.25 an hour, effective July 24th, 2009.
- An overtime pay rate of not less than one and one-half times the regular pay rate during hours worked more than 40 a week.
In addition, every covered employer must keep certain records for each non-exempt employee. Records do not have to be in a particular form. However, they must include specific identifying information about the employee. Employers must also record data on hours worked, pay rate, and wages earned.
DOL Timesheet App
The DOL has provided both tools and guidance to help employers comply with the federal wage and hour laws it enforces. Last year, the DOL launched a free employee Timesheet app for Android and iOS devices. Specifically, the Timesheet app allows employers to record hours worked, overtime, and breaks and compute total wages. On the app, employers can access updated wage and hour information for one location using their smartphones.
It also includes pay frequency options, like hourly or salary. Employers may enter relevant data and receive automatic calculations of wages payable. In conclusion, the tool can help employers accurately track hours and wages owed to their employees in order to avoid wage and hour lawsuits. Importantly, wage and hour recordkeeping can provide a positive defense during a lawsuit alleging unpaid wages and overtime.