Have you ever been told to report fewer hours on your time card than you actually worked? Employees were given a much need break when the Eleventh Circuit Court recently ruled against an employer that encouraged under-reporting of overtime work. In the case of Bailey v. Titlemax of Georgia, the facts were presented as follows:
- The plaintiff’s employer required him to regularly work overtime hours;
- His supervisor consistently pressured him to not list his overtime hours on his time card;
- The plaintiff resigned from the company; and
- The plaintiff filed suit against the employer for claims of failing to pay overtime under the FLSA.
The defendant asked the court for a summary judgement, asserting that the employee contributed to his lack of overtime pay by breaking company policy, when he failed to report accurate hours. In addition, the defendant asserted that the plaintiff should have reported his supervisor’s actions to a higher member of management. The plaintiff admitted knowledge of these policies. The District Court ruled in favor of the employer under the defense that the plaintiff had “unclean hands.”
The Eleventh Circuit overturned the District Court opinion on appeal, noting that the purpose of the FLSA is to balance the inequality that exists between employer and employee. The court ruled that employer’s knowledge of under-reported hours did not shield from liability under the FLSA, based on a defense that the employee under reported. The court further determined that the employer actually or constructively knew about the overtime hours and was thus responsible for payment.
Implications of the decision
This decision offers assistance to workers who are stuck between forced overtime work and a supervisor who demands under-reporting on time cards. Employers can no longer force workers to under-report, then turn around and deny liability based on the fact that the employee under-reported.