- A group of Florida Waste Pro collection workers can continue with their overtime and joint employment claims, a federal district court judge recently ruled in the case Thomas v. Waste Pro USA, Inc. and Waste Pro of Florida, Inc.
- The workers — who were usually paid a day rate plus nondiscretionary bonuses — said the multi-state waste management company failed to pay them time-and-a-half for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
- While the district court granted the company's motion for summary judgment on some claims, it declined to dismiss the workers' claim that a half-day rate involved in their pay calculation violated the FLSA. It also allowed a joint employment claim to proceed, potentially leaving a jury to decide whether Waste Pro USA was a joint employer along with Waste Pro of Florida, Inc., and therefore liable for the alleged violations.
Plaintiffs have compared this to a 2017 case against Waste Pro of Florida, in which a driver alleged the company's day rate policies violated the FLSA and made him eligible for unpaid overtime. The court denied the company's motion for summary judgment (a request Waste Pro has also made in this case) and a jury ultimately returned a verdict leading to a $69,000 payout for the employee.
The FLSA generally requires that non-exempt employees receive overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek, at the rate of at least one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay.
The U.S. Department of Labor does, however, set out different rules for day workers — employees who are paid a flat rate for a day's work or a particular job, without regard to the number of hours worked. In that case, if the worker receives no additional compensation, the regular rate is determined by dividing that day rate by the number of hours worked. The worker is then usually entitled to extra half-time pay at that rate for hours worked in excess of 40. Importantly, the regular rate must work out to at least the applicable minimum wage.
Timekeeping rules and procedures can get complicated, however, especially when factoring in additional payments, state and local requirements, employees who sometimes forget to clock in and out properly and employees who work unauthorized hours. Now that the new overtime rule has been finalized, experts say this is a particularly good time for employers to audit their timekeeping compliance, training and policies. Employers also may want to note that a new "regular rate" calculation may be on the horizon.