Lawsuits filed by Texas workers claiming wage-and-hour violations have increased by 42 percent over the past three years and have tripled in the past ten years. According to research by Androvett Legal Media, Texas workers filed at least 922 federal lawsuits in 2014 — compared to 632 cases in 2012 and 280 lawsuits in 2004. In 2013, workers filed 1,128 such cases.
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor opened new offices in Austin and Temple in 2014 to handle an increased number of complaints the agency is receiving, as well as the increased litigation.
Lawsuits and complaints have been filed over a variety of issues. In one example, employers have required workers to show up to work at a particular time, but did not start the pay clock until later. Other cases involve employers who have refused to pay when employees work overtime without obtaining pre-approval.
Many of the lawsuits are filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the 1938 law that created the 40-hour workweek and established overtime pay and the minimum wage.
Legal experts say that a number of factors have contributed to the increase in litigation, including that workers have become more knowledgeable about the law. There has also been growth in small businesses that may not be aware of the law’s requirements. In addition, the statute provides for legal fees, making it relatively easy for workers to obtain legal representation than for other types of cases.
In December 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a case involving workers’ pay. In a unanimous decision, the court held that a temp agency did not have to pay Amazon warehouse workers for the time they spent in a security screening checkpoint as they exited their workplace.