Court Battles Heat Up: “I Want Overtime Pay”

June 17, 2013 – In The News
NBC News

Carolyn Richmond was quoted in the NBC News article " Court Battles Heat Up: ‘I Want Overtime Pay’." While the full text can be found in the June 17, 2013, issue of NBC News, a synopsis is noted below.

A Chicago police officer sued for overtime for using his Blackberry when off the clock, a New York lawyer sued for putting in more than 40 hours a week without receiving overtime pay, these are just a few examples in the recent explosion of lawsuits filed against employers by their employees.

“I saw very few wage issue lawsuits for the first 11 years of my practice,” said Carolyn Richmond.

“Usually it was worker discrimination cases, but the number of cases on wages has increased a lot over the past few years,” Richmond said. Law suits in federal court alleging wage and hour violations have increased substantially over the past decade, and are 10 percent higher so far this year.

Richmond sees a changed economy as the reason behind the increase of lawsuits. “We moved to a service economy from a manufacturing one and that’s brought more low-paying jobs,” Richmond said. “There are a lot more workers in those jobs who are worried about their pay.”

“And lawyers themselves have seen the changing demographics and [are] moving to take these cases, more so than in the past,” Richmond added. “As a lawyer on the other side, I think some of them are frivolous.”

According to Richmond, winning these cases from the defendant side is not easy. “My clients call me the grim reaper because I usually tell them we can’t win the case,” said Richmond.

“For instance a worker at a restaurant says they’re due overtime, but they didn’t punch their time card correctly after being told to do so over and over again,” Richmond said. “The manager has to go back and figure it out. The burden is on the employer to prove the right time. It’s usually just too expensive to fight.”

“FLSA needs to make things clearer,” said Richmond. “It’s hard to figure this out. The system doesn’t help the employer at all. The burden should go back to the employee on proving overtime pay.”