In the Summer of 2017, Sprint Corp. settled a lawsuit in which 153 of its employees claimed that Sprint required workers to under-report their hours while simultaneously demanding that they work beyond their regular schedule. In December, a second lawsuit was filed against Sprint that alleged the same by a former employee who had not worked with Sprint since 2015. As word of the $365,000 settlement spread, more employees impacted by the policy realized that they were also entitled to damages.
In both cases, Sprint required its employees to report 40 hours per week in order to skirt Missouri and US labor law requirements that force companies to pay their workers time and a half for work in excess of 40 hours. The lawsuit alleged that Sprint, in fact, knew that many of their employees were working up to 60 hours a week, but refused to pay them for more than 40.
Missouri’s Overtime Laws
With a few exemptions, employers must pay employees 150% of their agreed upon hourly wage for any time worked in excess of 40 hours. Missouri law also requires employers to pay time and a half to employees that work in excess of eight hours a day, unless they only work four days a week at 10 hours a day. While there are some exemptions from the overtime requirement, the good employees of Sprint Corp. did not qualify for the exemption under Missouri law.
Employee positions that are exempted from the overtime pay requirement include:
- Administrative, executive, or professional positions
- Agricultural labor
- Motor carriers
- Outside sales
In the case of Sprint Corp., the company was well aware of the requirement and bullied its employees into under-reporting their wages for the sole purpose of saving themselves some money.
Sprint Denies Liability
Under the terms of the settlement, Sprint denied that it was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and conceded to paying the settlement for the purpose of avoiding costly ongoing litigation and resolving the issue quickly. The terms of settlement stipulated that the agreement could not be construed as an admission of culpability.
Violating the Fair Labor Standard Act not only opens a company like Sprint Corp. to civil action from its employees, but it can also be held liable under both Missouri and Federal law for a criminal act. In other words, it was in Sprint’s best interest to settle this case quickly and quietly, but that seems unlikely now that a second employee has stepped forward with a similar claim.
This has become a bit of a habit for Sprint who recently settled a $4.85 million case for wage theft in California. Sprint also faces other class actions for defrauding investors.
Has Your Employer Short Changed You?
Wage theft cases are not always as clear-cut as the case against Sprint, with employees sometimes being told that they do not qualify for overtime pay and are miscategorized as exempt. If you believe that your employer is shortchanging you on wages due, then you should be aware that Missouri and Federal Law is your side. HKM Employment Attorneys of Kansas City will review your case with you and help you explore your options. You do not have to take wage theft lying down. It is a crime. Give us a call at 816.607.4691 and we will begin discussing your case immediately.