Americans were pushed to their limit in the recession and its aftermath as they worked longer hours, often for the same or less pay, after businesses laid off almost 9 million employees.
Now, many are striking back in court. Since the height of the recession in 2008, more workers across the nation have been suing employers under federal and state wage-and-hour laws. The number of lawsuits filed last year was up 32% vs. 2008, an increase that some experts partly attribute to a post-downturn austerity that pervaded the American workplace and artificially inflated U.S. productivity.
Workers’ main grievance is that they had to put in more than 40 hours a week without overtime pay through various practices:
•They were forced to work off the clock.
•Their jobs were misclassified as exempt from overtime requirements.
•Because of smartphones and other technology, work bled into their personal time.
“The recession (put) more pressure on businesses to squeeze workers and cut costs,” says Catherine Ruckelshaus, legal co-director of the National Employment Law Project. If employers had to bear the actual expense of overtime, she says, they likely would have hired more workers in the economic recovery.
In response, employers are playing defense. They’re drawing clearer lines between workers and managers, and in many cases, reining in modern office privileges, such as company-issued smartphones and telecommuting. The upshot, in many instances, could be a very different American workplace.
Courts, meanwhile, must reconcile decades-old labor laws with ever-evolving technology. The spread of BlackBerrys and iPhones has many workers tethered to employers, for better or worse, even during off hours and vacations.
The controversy has reached the Supreme Court, but in a case involving an age-old profession: sales. Monday, the justices will hear oral arguments in a class-action lawsuit against drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline. Pharmaceutical sales representatives — traditionally classified as exempt from overtime pay — say they’ve been misclassified, a stance backed by the Labor Department in another case. Glaxo says the sales force clearly is exempt under current law.
http://www.sandiegoemploymentlawyer.net – 619.202.0264
Friend us on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/cf2fn4m