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Wisconsin Overtime Law

Posted by Tamara

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets guidelines for minimum wage and for overtime pay nationwide, including employers in Wisconsin. Under this federal law, managers are required to pay employees overtime when they work more than 40 hours in one payroll week. The law also requires employers to pay workers for every hour worked, and to keep accurate records of the time employees spend performing their tasks, both on and off premises.

A recent lawsuit involving Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Florida, highlights the important to Wisconsin employers of following FLSA guidelines.

The court case resulted from findings by the U. S. Department of Labor which discovered that between January, 2008 and January, 2010, certain inventory clerks (hourly food and beverage workers) were putting in time before and after their shifts and during their unpaid meal breaks. Working “off the clock” in this manner is strictly against Walt Disney World policy, but apparently managers weren’t enforcing this policy. Instead, they were allowing these employees to continue to work after their shifts to complete inventory items in the required timeframe.

The result of the lawsuit was Walt Disney World had to pay back wages for 69 resort employees totaling $433,819, which comes to $6,287 per worker involved in the suit.

How did this problem occur without someone noticing the workers were not following policy? The workers were using handheld devices to complete these tasks. The employees were using a cell phone, Blackberry or other mobile device to work from home and during unpaid breaks. Clearly, issuing employees with one of these devices can be problematical. In fact, an attorney for the Society for Human Resource Management stated, “An hourly employee with a handheld device such as a Blackberry or cell phone, supplied by the company, is a lawsuit waiting to happen.”

Wisconsin employers and employers across the U.S. need to be aware of how employees are using company-issued mobile devices. Prior to issuing such a device, the company should have a system in place to monitor its usage, and to pay employees for time spend using the device for work-related tasks.


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