If you or your company has been sued for wage and hour violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), New York Labor Law (NYLL), or other state wage law, there are certain legal obligations with which you must comply.
- Do not retaliate:according to the FLSA and NYLL, employers may not retaliate against employees for considering, filing, or participating in an unpaid wages lawsuit. Obvious forms of unlawful retaliation include terminating the employee or causing the employee physical harm. However, there are also less severe but equally illegal forms of retaliation, including significantly curtailing the employee’s hours, threatening physical harm to the employee, threatening to report the employee to immigration services, or pressuring the employee to opt out of the lawsuit or take a “side deal.” In the event that a client has been retaliated against, you will likely face additional claims and potential punitive damages. A New York hotel was recently subjected to a $2 million dollar punitive damages verdict based upon illegal retaliation.
- Maintain relevant records: according to the FLSA and NYLL, employers are required to maintain any records whatsoever that may be relevant to the pending lawsuit, including but not limited to payroll records, employee timesheets or other time records, employee handbooks, financial information about the company, bank account statements and all relevant hard copy or electronic correspondence. Save all documents you have regarding the lawsuit.
- Be aware that wage and hour lawsuits grow over time: both federal and state wage and hour law permit Plaintiffs to seek certification of their cases as a class or collective action. Certification authorizes Plaintiffs to send notice of the lawsuit to all former and current employees, any of whom is free to opt in to the lawsuit. Based on the notice process and simple word of mouth, more and more Plaintiffs join unresolved wage and hour cases, increasing the amount of unpaid wages and liquidated damages in question.
- Contact an attorney: if you or your company is the subject of a wage and hour lawsuit, immediately contact an attorney experienced in wage and hour law, who will explain your options for how to proceed with the lawsuit.