- A company president's memory was not enough to overcome employee allegations of unpaid work, a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling shows (U.S. Department of Labor v. Five Star Automatic Fire Protection, LLC, No. 19-51119 (5th Cir., Feb. 9, 2021)).
- The workers claimed they were instructed not to record pre- and post-shift work and DOL sued on their behalf. The agency alleged the employer's failure to maintain proper records and failure to pay proper overtime amounted to Fair Labor Standards Act violations.
- Considering both the employer's "bare bones timesheets [that] left numerous evidentiary gaps" and "consistent testimony" that employees were instructed not to record certain hours worked, the appeals court affirmed a lower court's ruling in DOL's favor. The court said it agreed with DOL’s calculations and held that the employer owed $121,687.37 in back wages, an equal amount in liquidated damages.
The FLSA requires that employers pay employees who are non-exempt overtime pay when the workers put in more than 40 hours in a workweek. The federal law also requires that employers keep track of employees’ work hours.
To better keep track of worker hours, many employers are turning to technology for help. As long as it is accurate, employers are free to use any timekeeping method they want.
A clear and concise policy on recording hours is also important, experts say. In a blog post addressing this most recent case, Lawrence D. Smith, a shareholder at Ogletree Deakins, suggested that "employers may want to have strict policies that require all nonexempt employees to record all hours worked and that provide for employee training on the policies."
Smith also recommended that employers require employees to verify hours worked each pay period and provide mechanisms for employees to raise any pay issues.