Great Neck employment litigation attorneys over the last year have noted an increasing number of overtime disputes. Great Neck employment litigation cases in this vein come from almost every industry and from employees of varying positions.
It appears we are far from alone in this. The federal Department of Labor is reporting a nearly 40 percent increase in the number of overtime wage lawsuits filed within the last year alone. The number of cases ballooned from nearly 8,800 in 2010 to 12,000 last year.
And now, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide on a case involving pharmaceutical company sales representatives who say they were wrongly denied overtime pay. The business, GlaxoSmithKline, contends the representatives weren't entitled to it because of their position within the company. The case is called Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., and justices will rule on whether salespeople are entitled to overtime and, more specifically, whether those selling pharmaceuticals are entitled to it.
The high court will hear the case this month, but a decision isn't likely to come until at least early summer.
In the meantime, there are other similar high-profile cases that have set somewhat of a precedent. There was Mario Batali, a chef with a television show who ended up settling with employees for more than $5 million over unpaid tips and overtime. And then there was Norvartis, another drug making company that shoveled over $99 million in a class action settlement stemming from overtime complaints made by its salespeople.
Both sides of the overtime issue point fingers at the other in saying they're to blame for the rising cases. The workers say employers are greedily trying to get around the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers, meanwhile, say the laws are somewhat archaic, confusing and difficult to apply to the modern work place. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Part of the increasing litigation has to do with the fact that employees these days are simply more aware of their rights and what actions they can take when those standards are violated.
On the other hand, the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938. This was at a time when workplaces looked very different than they do today. The advent of technology has altered not only the way in which we do business, but the core of the issue remains that workers should be paid fair wages for the hours they work.
But as in almost any area of law, it's been subject to a great deal of interpretation over the years. That has resulted in conflicting case law that has led to some confusion - which is why The Supreme Court is stepping in, hopefully to clarify.
It's important no matter what side you are on to consult with an experienced Great Neck employment litigation attorney who can help you sort through the specific details of your case to determine which statutes may apply and explore all your options.
The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides employment law legal counsel in Great Neck, Long Island, New York City and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.
Off the clock: Employees fighting for overtime pay, By Eve Tahmincioglu, MSNBC