According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel (9/20/12), more than 7,000 federal wage-and-hour lawsuits were filed in 2011, more than triple the number filed in 2002. The reason is that as employees face additional stresses at work, they pay closer attention to their pay, and feel more willing to come forward with a claim against their employer if necessary. Furthermore, employees who lose their jobs are more likely during tough times to obtain legal counsel.
While they might seek legal help for wrongful dismissal, attorneys are checking into whether or not the employee was paid properly while employed. This includes checking into overtime pay, to ensure employers factored in bonuses, shift differentials and commissions when calculating overtime wages. Many employers do not realize overtime wages must include non-discretionary bonuses, and therefore pay their employees too little for overtime.
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Add the lost income and any fines the company might be charged, and what seems like a small amount of money suddenly becomes a large amount. Employees have filed lawsuits against various companies to obtain unpaid overtime wages.