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Wage and hour disputes on the rise

The number of wage and hour law disputes has been increasing in Indiana and across the nation. There has been a 325 percent increase in wage and hour lawsuits filed during the last decade in the federal courts. The number of such disputes has exceeded all other employment type cases combined.

Part of the reason that there has been such an increase may be due to bad economic times. Workers have often been placed in a no-win situation where they've either faced decreases in wages or loss of jobs. However, another possible reason is simply that employers do not understand what their obligations are under the law.

The workplace is very different from the time that minimum wage and overtime laws were passed back in the 1930s and 1940s. Some of the criteria come down to defining what is and is not a non-exempt worker as far as overtime provisions is concerned. Too often employers treat such employees as exempt without adequately understanding all the components that go into making such a determination.

There is also a scarcity of case law for employers and employees to fall back on in circumstances where a dispute does occur. As of now, most such wage and hour disputes are settled rather than actually litigated.

With such uncertainty, employees would be highly advised to consult with an attorney experienced in employment disputes and who understands the various interpretations of such wage and hour laws. Such an attorney can provide options and work with one's employer to bring about a result that is satisfactory to both sides.

As working conditions change, laws will evolve. Sometimes changes in laws will provide clarification. At other times such changes will only muddy the waters concerning disputes regarding wage and hour laws.

Source: Law.com, "Wage and Hour Litigation is Big - and Getting Bigger," by Shannon Green, March 19, 2012

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