One of the most common types of wage theft in this country has to do with the misclassification of employees. This means that employees are classified as contractors or exempt so that employers do not have to abide by the minimum wage and overtime rates as mandated by the Fair Labor Standards Act. There are certainly types of employees who are genuinely exempt from certain wage and hours laws, but far too often employers misuse these exemptions, harming employees.
In a recent case, a delivery driver filed a lawsuit against his Texas employer arguing that he and the other delivery drivers were misclassified and not paid proper minimum wages or overtime wages.
The man filed the lawsuit on behalf of himself and the company's other current and former drivers in the Eastern District of Texas several weeks ago.
The lawsuit accuses the employer, a courier service, of knowingly violating the FLSA by misclassifying the workers as contractors and failing to compensate drivers with time-and-one-half for hours worked in excess of 40.
Instead of being paid based upon FLSA standards, the workers were reportedly compensated per delivery based on a fee schedule. This resulted in the drivers frequently working more than 40 hours a week. Because of the long hours they worked, their effective hourly pay rate fell below minimum wage, according to the lawsuit.
The FLSA is complicated, but employers are required to comply with federal and state wage and hour laws. It is not uncommon, unfortunately, for employers to misclassify workers to avoid minimum wage and overtime obligations. Workers whose employment law rights are violated may benefit from seeking legal counsel.
Source: The Southeast Texas Record, "Delivery driver sues employer claiming he was not paid minimum wage," Michelle Keahey, Nov. 27, 2012