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Good post! Wage Theft has been on the radar for a while now, but in the past year or two the DOL has intensified its focus on wage and hour compliance. They have launched a series of public outreach campaigns, informing workers of their rights ( see the We Can Help Website at http://www.dol.gov/wecanhelp/) and linking potential plaintiffs to the litigation bar is the newest - but I don't think the last - campaign. I definitely don't think you're seeing things that add up to nothing - even the tiniest of violations can lead to serious problems and huge financial exposure.

The wage theft issue seems to be gaining momentum here in Florida. There's a group here called the Florida Wage Theft Task Force, (FWTTF) that is committed to raising public awareness about wage theft. In addition, there's a research team called the Research Institue on Social & Economic Policy that published a report
http://www.risep-fiu.org/2010/11/wage-theft-in-florida-a-real-problem-with-real-solutions-2/ (first in a series) "describing and exposing the extent of wage theft violations in Florida".

Thanks for the front-line input, Jack. Is it true that attorneys in FL put billboard ads along the highways and on public transit buses, trolling for class-actions suits on overtime and wage theft issues?

The man who has made up his mind to win will never say "impossible ".

Workers getting cheated of their wages is a widespread problem in industries like construction, restaurants, janitorial services and farmwork. Contrary to the comments above, these are not problems invented by attorneys or department of labor investigators. Increasingly, ethical employers are beginning to speak up about the issues as well, because those who steal wages and commit payroll fraud undercut those who treat and pay workers fairly. Kim Bobo

Perhaps you misunderstood the intent of my alert, Kim. "Wage theft" is wrong, illegal, improper and offensive. It's also unfair to the honest employers who pay the true full cost of labor while those who cheat short-change everyone and get an unwarranted competitive advantage. Guilty parties should be punished and made to correct their practices.

It is the scale and sweep of the penalties and the new procedures being implemented in the U.S. that is noteworthy. Like getting a life sentence for a rolling stop at a deserted intersection that used to only involve a warning or a small fine.

Wrong remains wrong, but draconian measures are being levied against both the innocent and the guilty. Under federal law, a judgment of one dollar in awards forces full payment of all court costs and plaintiff attorney fees. Anyone with a big payroll is likely to have at least one instance somewhere sometime where some line supervisor erred in an overtime decision. Hence, it is becoming extremely important to be able to prove that you are in full exact compliance with both FLSA and your unique State overtime law.

As a Comp Analyst, way too often I get into bitter, emotional discussions with employees and managers about why they think they should be exempt. When I try to classify a job as non-exempt the biggest push back that I get is not from management but from the employees. They feel that being a non exempt employee somehow devalues their contribution and puts them in a lower status. We have had candidates turn down job offers because the position is non exempt, even though they would make the same or more money. For those who think big bad corporations just want to save money and abuse workers I think they are for the most part wrong. It has been my experience that firms get into trouble because they are simply not willing to push back on the employees desire to be in the "exempt" class.

Well said, JL. Although I have seen more violations of FLSA caused by supervisory ignorance than by intent, the "salaried status" of working "off the clock" and being considered a professional and part of management is a major issue. I spent many decades as the comp consultant to NSA, PSI and now IAAP; executive secretaries identify with their bosses and administrative assistants are insulted if "forced" to take overtime. Nevertheless, needless to say, disaster can follow when a disgruntled AA makes an anonymous call to the WHD after decades of recorded "voluntary" unpaid overtime. Such violations created by legitimate and frequently well-meaning attempts to please status-conscious nonexempts will surface eventually. Better sooner than later, because the risks and penalties will only increase. The net being cast to capture serious offenders is a very fine mesh that will engulf everyone guilty of the smallest infraction. Those hunting armed robbers are sweeping up jaywalkers too, more or less.

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