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Wage, overtime dispute at center of possible class action lawsuit

On Behalf of | Jan 21, 2022 | Business Litigation |

When companies pay wages to North Carolina workers, state law and federal law could be a source of discord. Employees who believe they were underpaid by alleged financial sleight of hand on the part of their employers should be cognizant of their rights in the state and based on federal rules. If the problem is prevalent and impacts a range of people, a class action filing is possible. One recent case was revived on appeal possibly paving the way for a class action case to restart.

“Gap pay” leads to discord between employee and employer

Emergency medical service workers in North Carolina had claimed that they were underpaid because the county had shifted regular salary to cover their overtime and allegedly reduce their total wages. This tactic, known as “gap pay,” had been decided upon nine years ago by the Second Circuit. The court stated that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not recognize any claim in which gap pay is at issue. With gap pay, workers’ overtime is paid according to the law when they did not receive full pay for normal work hours. The recent decision to revive the class action was made by the Fourth Circuit, putting the courts at odds.

According to the original complaint, the EMS employees are salaried. They accrued 48 or 72 hours per week meaning they were always going beyond the number of hours to receive overtime pay. The plaintiff filed her claim in 2018. In it, she said that a large portion of her salary was used to offset her overtime. In 2017, she asserted that she lost about $11,000 in pay because the county used this method. The case was dismissed by a federal judge, but this decision revived the case. Since she and other workers may have been victimized, it can be a class action case.

Employment law cases and class action status can overlap

This case encompasses state employment law, employer tactics, the FLSA and class action claims. It can be understandably confusing when there is this type of overlap. For those who are confronted with the combination of issues involved in this type of case, having comprehensive guidance from those who are experienced in both can be beneficial. When employers try to use questionable tactics to limit how much they pay in overtime and a group of employees are victimized, it is vital to have assistance. Consulting with those experienced in these situations can provide advice from the start to try and address the issues through negotiation or by going to court and appealing if needed.