|| Print ||
|Friday, May 13, 2011|
By Tamsen Leachman
Creating evidence to bolster a wage and hour lawsuit has never been easier. Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor launched its free iPhone and iPad app designed to help employees who want to keep their own time records — just in case.
According to the DOL, the app will allow employees to easily track the time they work, whether they take breaks and how much overtime is worked. Although a company’s time records are the official record, an unofficial record, like the one created by this app, can be considered in court if there is disagreement about the accuracy of a company’s records.
Employees using the app may not be simply keeping a separate timesheet. The app also allows employees to create reports and summaries, add comments to the entries and email the data. The DOL has thought of everything, it seems. It even added easy, one-tap email access to the DOL and links to regional offices. With the DOL at employees’ fingertips, some experts are concerned the number of potentially costly wage and hour claims will quickly increase.
Oregon employers have seen a spike in the number and the size of wage and hour claims in recent years. These claims are particularly expensive because they not only seek unpaid wages, but also allege heavy penalty amounts. Oregon has several penalty provisions that, when triggered by a failure to pay all wages owed, can easily double, triple or even quadruple the wages in dispute. When attorney fees to defend the case and for a winning plaintiff are added, the cost of these claims quickly skyrockets.
The ultimate impact the DOL’s app is unclear. We do know that this app will appeal to certain segments of the workforce – younger and more tech-savvy workers, for example – and anyone who suspects they are not being paid correctly or fairly. This should be a wake-up call to businesses. Keeping sound time records, having employees review and confirm the accuracy of time entries, paying employees correctly and creating open channels of communication for questions about pay issues has never been more important.
While there is no guaranteed fix to pay disputes, businesses that include their employees in creating and confirming the time records, generally achieve better results. On the other hand, businesses that encourage employees to record time that is not a real reflection of reality quickly find themselves in trouble. Juries know that no one works precisely from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with lunch from noon to 1:00 p.m., day in and day out. However, they also tend to believe employees who claim they were told to clock out for lunch even though they worked at their desk during lunch, especially if there are witnesses to back up the employees or where several employees tell the same story.
Businesses that find and correct pay mistakes by listening to employees who find them, or through their own internal audits or review, typically avoid big problems by catching and fixing the small ones. If it has been a while since you looked at your pay practices and time records, the DOL app may be just the motivator to move this task to the top of your to-do list.
Tamsen Leachman is a partner at the Portland office of Fisher & Phillips LLP.
|A Complex Portrait: Immigration, Jobs and the Economy|
|Woman of Steel|
|Kill the Meeting|
|Debate surrounding Washington-Oregon I5 span heats up|
|Watchdog group takes issue with timber company's 'green' label|
|Labor dispute at the ports slowing Christmas deliveries|
|Fed stresses 'patience' regarding interest rate|
|Obama to announce end of Cuba isolation|
|Energy prices drop cost of living in US by most since 2008|
|Russia's attempt to slow ruble freefall fails|
Is your business ready to join us in the call for action? This opening panel includes Oregon businesses who will discuss why they signed the Oregon Climate Declaration, the investments they are making to reduce carbon emissions, and how their actions are affecting their companies.
Get ready for two days of special events produced with the EPA, Portland Timbers and ISOS before and after the GoGreen Conference on October 16.
How sports tourism is driving economic growth and making cities across Oregon a better place to live.
Port of Morrow's business-ready attitude has a surprising global impact.
Through its support of the arts, the Cultural Trust is strengthening the business community.
Heed the morals of these seminal holiday stories in your everyday life.
Amy will practice in the firm's Business, Real Estate, and Tax practice groups.
While the Bend City Council ultimately upheld the approval which enables OSU-Cascades to move forward with the 10 acre site, it did also thoughtfully consider the nature of its code requirements, resident concerns and OSU-Cascade’s efforts and suggestions and crafted conditions of approval to address potential impacts of the site in the area.