As 2009 continues to wind down, I continue to spend time looking at the most common industries that repeatedly violated the wage and hour laws during these unusual economic times. What I discovered, was that we saw a large number of claims arise in the construction, financial services, and insurance industries. Specifically, we assisted thousands of construction managers, builders, laborers, and carpenters who, due to the downturn in the homebuilding markets, had their wages cut, did not receive their properly due overtime, and/or who were fired on the verge of collecting large commissions for housing sales so that their employers could avoid having to pay them. The reason for this series of events was obvious- as homesales slowed, employers looked for a way to cut costs.
Unfortunately, they did so at the expense of their workers. Many companies in this industry continue with this conduct. But, because employees do not want to lose their jobs in this recession, they understandably do nothing about it. This is the common stuck between a rock and a hardplace situation. Remember, however, that it is a violation of federal law for employers to retaliate against an employee for asserting his or her legal rights to proper compensation. In those limited instances where employers are dumb enough to retaliate against our clients, the retaliation laws make sure they learn from their conduct.
The insurance and financial services industries exploded in the past year with the inability of many Americans to pay their mortgage or secure health insurance due to unemployment. Many of these companies simply opened up “boiler room” type operations where they worked their employees for 50-70 hours a week and refused and/or failed to pay these employees their overtime compensation and minimum wages rightfully due. These companies are popping up all over the country. The majority of companies that we have encountered violate the wage and hour laws as frequently as they tell consumers that they can lower their rates or sell them a great insurance policy.
I hope all is well in these crazy times. Happy holidays to all and I will speak with you again shortly.