Florida Company Pays $10,125 in Back Wages After DOL Finds Overtime Violations
On November 30th, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that a Seminole, FL-based contractor has agreed to pay $10,125 in back wages to resolve overtime violations uncovered in an investigation conducted by the federal agency. The employer allegedly improperly deducted meal breaks from worker timesheets automatically—even though meal breaks were not always taken. Here, our Miami employment law attorneys provide a more detailed overview of settlement and explain the meal break deductions rules contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Unpaid Overtime Settlement: Improper Deductions
The DOL brought the wage and hour enforcement action against Jenergy Air Services, LLC, an HVAC company serving communities throughout Pinellas County, Florida. According to the press release, the agency initiated its investigation after receiving a tip that Jenergy Air Services was improperly recording employee hours worked.
More specifically, the Florida company used an automated system that deducted meal breaks from an employee’s hour worked. Although meal breaks can be excluded from overtime calculations, the system used by the company had an inherent flaw: It always deducted time for a meal break, regardless of how the employee used that time.
In some cases, employees at Jenergy Air Services skipped their meal breaks to continue performing work on behalf of the company. As time was not properly recorded, this triggered overtime violations. The company has agreed to pay 10 employees a collective $10,125 to settle the unpaid overtime issue.
FLSA: Meal Break Deductions Must Be Accurate
The Fair Labor Standards Act guarantees non-exempt employees overtime pay for all hours beyond 40 in a given workweek. Employers must pay overtime wages. These are not optional. Employees cannot choose to opt-out of receiving overtime pay. Their right to overtime pay is based on the actual nature of their job duties.
To satisfy their overtime obligations, companies and organizations must record employee hours accurately. If an employee’s full hours are not recorded, they may be denied overtime pay that is lawfully due to them under the FLSA. In many cases, companies and organizations run into problems with meal breaks. It is an area where hours worked can easily get miscounted, even when parties are acting in good faith.
Meal break deductions must be accurate. A fully automated system could lead to overtime violations if no review is conducted to confirm that employees actually stop working during the allotted meal breaks. If any employee does work on behalf of the company, they are not taking a deductible meal break for the purposes of federal wage and hour law.
Call Our South Florida Unpaid Overtime Lawyers for Legal Help
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida employment attorneys handle the full range of wage and hour disputes, including unpaid overtime claims. If you have any questions about meal breaks and record-keeping, we are available to help. Call us now for a confidential case evaluation. With law office locations in West Palm Beach and Miami, our firm handles overtime law cases throughout all of Southeastern Florida.