Sisyphus Had It Easy


Sisyphus Had It Easy

by Jonathan Segal on November 9, 2011

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a king punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down. No matter what he did, Sisyphus could not get to the top of the hill.

We can all feel Sisyphus’ pain as HR and other executives. We are constantly rolling up against regulatory boulders, plaintiffs’ lawyers and labor unions marketed by the NLRB.

But Sisyphus had it easy in one respect. He did not have to worry about the FLSA.

We are in the middle of a wage and hour revolution. More specifically:

The number of FLSA cases filed per year has nearly quadrupled since the late 1990’s

DOL back wages collected in 2010: $175,652,665

Employees receiving back pay wages in 2010: 208,615

DOL concluded cases in 2010: 26,815

FLSA cases filed in district courts in 2010: 6,081

FLSA cases filed so far in district courts in 2011 so far are close to 5,000.

One of the most common allegations is that employees are required to work “off the clock” but are not paid. Indeed, it is often now referred to as wage theft.

Although only one area of exposure, it is a big one. And, it is one that can be addressed readily quickly and easily.

Here are five recommendations that will minimize your organization’s exposure in this area:

  1. Have a wage and hour policy that includes a statement that no manager, supervisor, etc. can require, encourage or even suggest that an employee work off the clock.
  2. Develop a complaint procedure for employees to report any circumstances in which they believe that they have been required, encouraged or even suggested to work off the clock (with appropriate assurances, such as non-retaliation).
  3. Educate your supervisors and managers on their need to contact HR if they have actual or constructive knowledge that an employee may have worked off the clock so that HR can talk with the employee and ensure that the employee is properly paid.
  4. Focus on “off hours” work, for example, limit use of PDAs or access to your e-mail and make sure that, when use is permitted, employees record and are paid for their time.
  5. Develop a mechanism for employees to report or record time they have worked but which may not be reflected on their hard copy or electronic time card or record (for example, an edit form for employees to add time that they have worked between shifts).

Remember, earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the launch of its first application for smartphones, a timesheet to help employees independently track the hours they work and determine the wages they are owed. The DOL also has even developed and published an old fashion hard copy calendar for employees to use to record their time.

Want to trade roles with Sisyphus for a day?

This blog post should not be construed as legal advice, pertaining to specific factual situation or establishing an attorney-client relationship.