Overtime Wage Complaints Hit Record, Report Shows

Record Number Of Employers Not Paying Overtime, Stealing Wages

Not getting your overtime pay? You're not alone.

The number of workers filing complaints against their employers under the Fair Labor Standard Act has skyrocketed, a report published by the law firm Seyfarth Shaw shows. Since 1993, the number of federal case loads relating to misclassification of workers, failure to pay overtime and miscalculated overtime for non-exempt workers has risen to a new all-time record of 7,006 in 2011 from 1,457 cases in 1993.

And this year is on track to beat that, with 7,064 cases already filed. Lack of clarity in overtime laws and lucrative settlements for plaintiffs are just some of the reasons why the number of reported wage abuse cases is going up. In addition, a weak economy has pushed corporations operating with a slimmed-down staff to squeeze more out of their employees.

Findings from other studies echo the data. In a report cataloging wage violations in New York City, the National Employment Law Project found that 77 percent of the study's surveyed low-wage workers who had worked more than 40 hours in one week did not receive their required overtime pay; the number rises to 93 percent for workers who worked more than 10 hours in one day.

The study also found that 21 percent of workers reported that they were being paid less than the required minimum wage. Only non-white U.S. born workers did not report a minimum wage violation. The average low wage worker loses out on $58 per week and $3,000 per year due to wage violations by employers, according to the study.

For its part, the federal government has started cracking down on employer wage violations, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Department of Labor is focusing on industries -- such as restaurant, hospitality, janitorial, health care and day care -- where wage theft is believed to be widespread. In the last fiscal year, the Department of Labor has collected over $224 million in back wages for more than 275,000 workers, MSNBC reports.

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