DALLAS –(August 23, 2012) –The national law firm of Baron and Budd is announcing a victory for a group of mechanics in an overtime violations lawsuit. In the case, a group of mechanics were misclassified by their employer as independent contractors to avoid paying the workers lawful overtime wages. However, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), these workers should have been classified as employees, and thus should have been paid overtime wages for the preceding three-year period. The workers were represented by Baron and Budd attorney Allen Vaught, head of the firm’s overtime violations litigation section in addition to co-counsel, Ed Sullivan, of the law firm of Oberti Sullivan.

In the case, the group of mechanics, labeled “independent contractors” by their employer, was generally paid a flat salary. Even though the mechanics typically worked 60 hours a week, they were not paid overtime. Yet, under the FLSA, the mechanics should have been defined as employees rather than contractors. An agreement between an employer and a worker for the worker to be an independent contractor and not be paid overtime is not enforceable if the facts show that the amount of control placed on the worker really makes him an employee.  In other words, the right to overtime pay can never be waived by agreement of the employer and worker.  Based on these well established principles, a judge and jury returned a verdict that these mechanics were able to obtain their unpaid back wages plus a penalty known as liquidated damages for the employer’s violation of the FLSA in the lawsuit.

“Many workers may not realize they are due overtime pay, but this case shows that it is more common than people realize,” said Allen Vaught. “Even though your employer may call you an ‘independent contractor’ that does not mean that you are still not due overtime wages and damages because the right to overtime pay can never be waived – not even by agreement between the employer and the employee.”

Under the FLSA, independent contractors are essentially in business for themselves and do not rely entirely on a single business entity for their income and are therefore exempt from overtime pay.  Since many workers are not familiar with the specific aspects of the FLSA, they are unaware of the law’s definitions of an independent contractor compared to an employee.  Moreover, many workers do not realize that they cannot waive their right to overtime pay merely be agreeing to be labeled as an independent contractor.  What matters is what they actually do, not what the employer calls them.  Many businesses rely on that lack of knowledge to utilize unfair bargaining power and misclassify employees and avoid paying overtime wages.

If you think that you, a friend or family member may be misclassified as an independent contractor rather than an employee, and therefore not paid all overtimes wages required by law, then please feel free to contact attorney Allen Vaught at 1.866.495.1255 or via email at avaught@baronbudd.com for a free consultation.

Your inquiry is confidential and the FLSA protects employees from being fired or retaliated against for investing possible violations.

Learn more about overtime violations, employee misclassification, the FLSA and your rights at //baronandbudd.com/areas-of-practice/overtime-violations/.

About Baron & Budd, P.C.

The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Austin and Los Angeles, is a nationally recognized law firm with a 30-year history of "Protecting What’s Right" for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals, governmental and business entities in areas as diverse as water contamination, Gulf oil spill, Qui Tam, California Proposition 65 violations, unsafe drugs and medical devices, Chinese drywall, deceptive advertising, consumer financial fraud, securities fraud and asbestos cancers such as mesothelioma. //baronandbudd.com