More Workers Complaining Employers Cheat Them Of Overtime Pay

The owner of three Subway shops won an award that no boss would want to receive. After workers in Anil Dhawan's stores in Vancouver, British Columbia, complained that they were pressured to waive their right to overtime pay, labor activists there awarded Dhawan the "Bad Boss Award."

The Employee Action and Rights Network claims that Dhawan's employees were coerced into signing documents waiving overtime pay in exchange for the ability to work more hours each week in violation of local law, the Vancouver Sun reports.

Dhawan acknowledged that the overtime-waiver form exists but told The Province newspaper, "It was never used."

The incident, however, is just the latest in a long series of cases in which workers, fed up with not being paid overtime, are saying, "enough."

USA Today notes that employees' lawsuits about overtime pay rose 32 percent last year compared to 2008, when the recession was at its height. The U.S. Supreme Court this week is hearing a case involving whether pharmaceutical companies must pay overtime wages to as many as 90,000 sales representatives; if it rules in favor of the employees, that would reverse 70 years of pay practices within the industry, Bloomberg reports.

More than dozen cases have been filed against drugmakers, including GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb, by workers whose job it is to persuade doctors to prescribe their company's products.

Three years ago, the Obama administration threw its support behind the sales representatives in a court filing, saying an exemption to overtime rules contained within federal labor law doesn't apply to drug-industry representatives since they only promote -- and don't actually sell -- their company's products.

Another instance involves a Brooklyn stripper who charges that the adult entertainment firm she worked for paid her less than minimum wage, in part because she worked such long hours.

Crystal DiCesare was hired by Dial-A-Dancer last fall to perform private shows and was paid out of tips that she and other workers were given during their performances. But in a federal lawsuit DiCesare alleges that after Dial-A-Dancer owner Roger Otway took his cut, her pay came to around $150 to $200 a week, even though tips totaled about $500 on each of the 12-hour nights she worked.

The seeming rise in the number of cases involving workers complaining about poor wages and no overtime pay follows in the wake of the recent recession, which resulted in millions of layoffs and in workers logging more hours for the same pay.

USA Today notes that at the heart of many workers' complaints is having to work more than 40 hours a week without overtime pay, by various means including:

  • Workers being fired forced to work off the clock.
  • Employees' jobs being misclassified as exempt from federal overtime requirements.
  • Smartphones and other technology causing work time to bleed into workers' personal time.

How Overtime Pay Works

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