Wage & Hour
Our team was practicing wage and hour law when there were very few other dedicated practitioners in the field.
The ever-increasing number of wage and hour disputes prompts the need for experienced legal teams to help resolve these often contentious issues. For years, wage and hour collective/class actions have been the most common form of employment litigation in America, garnering headlines in the press, and some settlements and judgments of over $100 million. Events that traumatize the economy, such as a recession or pandemic, often increase the number of wage and hour and other employment claims that employees bring. And, since wage and hour laws are complex and far-reaching, almost every employer is subject to potential wage and hour claims.
Seeking to manage their exposure in this new world, employers must address not only the most straightforward matters, but also less defined situations and changing rules that can be, at the least, troublesome, and in the extreme, highly problematic to an organization – for example, who is really an employee as opposed to an independent contractor, who is nonexempt or overtime-eligible, what hours they worked, and what overtime pay they are due. Given the nature of today’s workforce as well as the demands on business environments, it is probable that an employer will indeed encounter wage and hour disputes.
Brown Rudnick’s nationally renowned Wage & Hour Litigation and Compliance Team assists companies as they address these challenges. This accomplished team is also respected for its role in teaching and publishing on this topic. Their perspective, seasoned knowledge of the law, ability to articulate issues and develop results strategies, altogether translates into pivotal assistance in three critical areas: compliance, training, and resolving disputes through mediation, arbitration, and litigation.
We counsel employers in the areas impacted by key federal and state wage and hour laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Davis-Bacon Act (DBA), Service Contract Act (SCA), Presidential Executive Orders, and state wage laws. The primary goal, quite simply, is to avoid or resolve federal and state government investigations and private litigation.
Our work in each of these areas is often applied to the “big picture,” where we conduct a review of the company’s practices as a whole, across their operations. A client may choose to conduct the review before a dispute arises as part of smart business practices. An investigation by the United States Department of Labor or state labor department will also call for this kind of enterprise-wide audit. Due diligence, as an element of a planned business action (merger or sale, perhaps), will also call for a compliance review. We also assist where an employee complaint has been filed or an employee’s situation may have caused concern or questions. Our background also includes defending government contractors experiencing contracting difficulties due to past wage and hour violations and related allegations of improper billing and false claims. And, we advise start-up companies trying to design creative executive compensation packages that comply with wage and hour laws.
When it comes to wage and hour dispute resolution, Brown Rudnick offers decades of experience across the full spectrum of issues that can be encountered, including exemptions, working time or child labor. We approach each situation with a pragmatic viewpoint, engaging in mediation or arbitration, or defending against litigation by moving to dismiss or for quick summary judgment when appropriate When it is in the client’s best interests, we recommend that the strategy be to negotiate a favorable settlement. In each scenario, we help clients assess the risks to which they may be exposed and navigate the potential liabilities. Separately, we also assist with individual FLSA actions.
It is indeed true that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In the field of wage and hour law, this adage proves itself time and time again. Lack of a clear understanding of federal and state wage laws can lead to very costly judgments or settlements, while good faith compliance can have financial benefits.
To help our clients avoid wage and hour pitfalls, we have developed clear and concise training programs for human resource professionals, in-house counsel and their staff, as well as other managers with supervisory responsibilities. These training sessions are offered through commercial seminar providers such as Federal Publications Seminars, Lorman Educational Services, and Thompson Information Systems, as well as being conducted privately on the client site, and can be customized, as needed, to address specific needs, situations and concerns. For these sessions, we often develop client-specific materials that prove useful to HR teams as key resource guides.
Additionally, our team has authored and edited leading books including: Federal Contractor's Guide to Employment Law Compliance, Employer's Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act, and others. In addition, we have authored training manuals on prevailing wage and other topics and are active instructors in various seminars, audio-conferences and webinars.
Our group includes experienced government contracts lawyers. Federal and state government contractors have to navigate a complex maze of special wage and hour and other labor law requirements – including the Service Contract Act; the Davis-Bacon Act; the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act; and various Executive Orders, including Paid Sick Leave. To properly advise clients in these matters, counsel must understand both government contract principles as well as the wage and hour laws. The two practice areas come together and complement each other, permitting us to be more effective advocates for our clients. It is rare to find the two disciplines combined as they are here at Brown Rudnick.