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Wage and hour disputes on the rise: Are employees' rights being trampled upon?

If a Detroit worker performs eight hours of work, then he or she deserves to be paid for those eight hours. That's a basic presumption of employment law, and even of our society in general. It's so fair and reasonable that you would think no one could argue against it.

However, there has been a large increase in the number of wage and hour violations reported by employees. So far this year, there have been 7,064 cases alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs wage and hour disputes. That's a record-high number. In all of 2011, there were 7,006 such claims. Ten years ago, there were just 2,035.

So, why the spike?

One reason is the troubled economy. When people have to watch every penny, as many of us have to do these days, they are less likely tolerate employer chicanery than they would be in better times. Also, it seems more low-wage workers are embracing class action suits. Previously, low-wage workers would have avoided filing a lawsuit because they did not make enough to retain an attorney and thus individual employment law violations went unaddressed. However, class action lawsuits bring together similarly situated people and defray the expense of filing a lawsuit by sharing costs.

One good thing is that the Department of Labor has collected a record-setting $224 million in back wages so far this fiscal year. That represents the money that was owed to some 275,000 workers.

While it's good to know the Department of Labor is looking out for the Average American Worker, sometimes you need immediate help or attention that's more customized than that which a government agency can provide. We work with a wide variety of Detroit workers on these sorts of issues. If you think having more information would be helpful to you, follow the link below to our website.

Resources:

  • Sterling Attorneys' Employee Rights page
  • NBC News, "Growing number of workers complain about being shortchanged," Eve Tahmincioglu, July 26, 2012

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