The federal law which mandates overtime and minimum wages for most workers, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), is unique in that it allows employees to recover wages from a broader group than what most people understand to be their “employer.”
Examples of “Joint Employment” in Wage & Hour Law
For example, under the FLSA, an employer could be both the company you work for and the individual(s) who run the company. Additionally, your employer could be both the temp agency that placed you and the company where you have been placed. Your employer also could be both the contractor you work for and the company or contractor who hired the contractor you work for. A final example of joint employment could be where an individual works for multiple companies run by the same people.
Why Does Joint Employment Matter?
Who your employers are is significant for wage and hour purposes for two primary reasons. The first is related to who you can sue for damages. Too often, companies are fly-by-night and may have little or no assets, or they could be in bankruptcy. In these cases, you may win your case for overtime or minimum wages, but not be able to collect a dime. However, if a joint employer relationship can be proven, there may be another source from which to collect damages.
The other circumstance when a joint employer relationship becomes significant is counting hours to figure out when time and a half must be paid. Many people must work multiple part time jobs to make ends meet. If you work two or three jobs, but never work over 40 hours in one job, you could work 50 or 60 hours a week and never see any overtime pay. However, if some of the companies you work for are run by the same people, you may be able to add up the hours from both jobs to hit the 40-hour overtime threshold. For example, if you work for a chain restaurant and put in 30 hours at one location and 30 hours at a different location, if joint employment is found, you would be entitled to 20 hours of overtime for your 60 hour work week.
Joint Employment Is Increasingly Prevalent
This concept of joint employment has long been part of the FLSA. However, as the American economy evolves, joint employment has become more prevalent. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued detailed guidance on how it analyzes whether a joint employment relationship exists. Author David Weil (the current Administrator of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division) also addresses joint employment in depth in The Fissured Workplace.
If you feel you have not been paid proper wages by your employer (or joint employers), Hawks Quindel will evaluate your case free of charge. Please contact (608) 257-0040 with your questions.
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