Our firm represents workers whose employers have not paid what they owe. Wage and hour litigation has become increasingly crucial in enforcing state and federal worker wage protections.
Depending on the type of wages that are not being paid, employees may be claimed under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act (NCWHA), or both the FLSA and NCWHA.
North Carolina has even more robust protections for aggrieved workers. In addition to minimum wage and overtime rules like the FLSA, the NCWHA protects earned bonuses, earned commissions, and promised paid time off.
Often, the amounts that are owed may not warrant litigation on an individual basis. For example, if a large employer requires employees to work off-the-clock for 15 minutes per shift, it may result in only a few hundred dollars over a year for an employee. However, this adds up quickly when multiplied by hundreds or thousands of workers.
A class action lawsuit allows workers who have suffered similar harm to come together and pursue their claims in a single court action. Suits brought under the FLSA and NCWHA are one of the most common types of workplace class action.
The FLSA specifically outlines the process for creating a class action, called a “collective action” by the law, over wage and hour violations, which can substantially differ from typical class actions under the NCWHA. With FLSA collective actions, an employee must prove that other current or former employees were “similarly situated.” If a court determines they are, conditional certification will be granted, and the Plaintiff will send notices to potential class members, who must opt-in to the lawsuit.
In class actions under the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act, employees do not need to “opt in” to the lawsuit. Instead, if they desire to be excluded from the lawsuit, they must “opt out.”
Damages under the FLSA and the NCWAHA include the unpaid wages plus liquidated damages equal to what is owed in unpaid wages—essentially “double damages”—plus attorneys’ fees and costs.