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U.S. Department of Labor Takes on More Overtime Cases

Detroit News (04/23/12) Bill Bowen

The number of fair wages cases investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor has increased since the economic downturn. The number of cases investigated by the department’s Dallas office alone rose from 642 in 2008 to 1,193 in 2011, and recently workers of Dallas-based Temp Team Inc. won $244,000 in overtime back wages due to being misclassified as exempt.

Experts attribute the increases in investigations and lawsuits involving overtime pay to companies working to scale back labor costs, a boost in DOL funding and enforcement, and employers simply not understanding the complex rules. Others say the Fair Labor Standards Act is no longer relevant, as clear demarcations between managers, hourly employees, administrative workers, and outside salespeople are gone; more workers have flexible hours, telecommute, or are connected to their jobs no matter the hour or location by mobile devices; and more employees are placed by temporary staffing firms or operate as independent contractors. Experts say most violations involve training issues, meaning that managers simply need to be educated about the law.