Businesses seek to gain profits, and this goal extends to their workforce as well. However, some employers act in violation of the law to save money on benefits and wages to be paid to their employees.
According to a recent report, hundreds of Chipotle employees in six different states have brought multiple lawsuits against the company for various wage and hour violations. Among the employee claims are that the company required them to work more than 40 hours in a week, but would only pay them for 40 hours. Some systems were setup to automatically put employees off the clock, even though they were still working. Another allegation is that certain employees were classified as managers-in-training, making them exempt for purposes of overtime pay, but these employees performed the same work as other, non-exempt staff members. Chipotle has denied the legitimacy of these allegations and has stated that they provide meals and breaks for employees that are better than what is required by law.
The work week is set at 40 hours by federal law, therefore any amount that an employee works in excess of this threshold is subject to overtime pay, unless that employee is exempt from receiving it. Non-exempt employees are entitled to receive time and a half pay for any overtime hours. Should their employer fail to pay the increased rate, or pay at all, for the overtime hours, they could be subject to liability for the unpaid overtime, in addition to possible penalties.
Exempt employees are not entitled to overtime pay. Such employees are typically executives and technical and professional employees. Intentionally classifying employees as exempt, even though their work responsibilities indicate otherwise, is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Employees should be cognizant of the exemption status of their job, so they know whether they are entitled to overtime pay. If an employee feels that they have been classified incorrectly, or that they are not receiving pay that they have earned, they may be able to pursue a claim against their employer to receive their earned compensation.
Source: The Gazette, "Chipotle comes under fire in employee suits; hundreds of workers in several states allege they were cheated out of pay," Anna Boiko-Weyrauch, Jun. 7, 2015