Blanchard & Walker PLLC : Workers on a “Day-Rate” Pay System are Still Owed Overtime Pay.

Blanchard & Walker PLLC : Workers on a “Day-Rate” Pay System are Still Owed Overtime Pay.

“Day-rate” regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) are very clear: “day-rate” workers” are entitled to additional pay for hours worked over forty in a week. The Department of Labor Regulation, 29 C.F.R. § 778.112, requires that when employees paid on a day-rate work more than forty hours in a week, their hourly rate is calculated by totaling all money received in the workweek and dividing by the total hours actually worked in that week. Such employees are then entitled to an overtime half-time premium for all hours worked over forty that week.

In one recently-filed Blanchard & Walker case, a client worked in construction and demolition of merchandising fixtures for big box stores, such as AutoZone and Meijer, but she was paid only a straight day rate for each day worked.  She worked more than ten hours a day, six or seven days a week without the overtime pay required under the law. Unfortunately, this type of payroll fraud is very common.

The U.S. Secretary of Labor filed a similar case in Michigan last year, and the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan easily disposed of the restaurant owner’s defenses and granted Summary Judgment for the DOL for “day-rate” restaurant workers:

Although the FLSA does not require employers to compensate their employees on an hourly basis, “the overtime compensation due to employees must be computed on the basis of the hourly rate derived therefrom, and therefore, it is necessary to compute the regular hourly rate of such employees during each workweek.” 29 C.F.R. § 778.109. The “regular rate” will necessarily fluctuate when an employee’s hours vary. 29 C.F.R. § 778.108. In this case, Defendants paid their employees a flat day rate, regardless of the hours worked. The Secretary calculated overtime due by performing a mathematical computation to determine the “regular rate.” The Secretary used the total remuneration as the dividend, and the hours worked as the divisor, to determine the “regular rate” as the quotient. Using this calculation, the Secretary determined that Defendants failed to pay overtime at one and a half times the regular rate for any of their employees. Defendants have failed to show that the Secretary’s calculations do not comport with the strictures of the FLSA. Accordingly, Defendants’ pay practices violate the FLSA’s requirement for overtime compensation under 29 U.S.C. § 207(a) and the Secretary is entitled to summary judgment.

Acosta v. Min & Kim Inc., No. 15-CV-14310, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9507, at *18-19 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 22, 2018)

Unfortunately, many employers violate this wage law hoping they won’t get caught on this type of payroll fraud…  and even if they do get caught, hoping that it will cost less to settle a lawsuit and pay off one plaintiff rather than changing their system and paying all workers what they are legally owed. 

At Blanchard & Walker, we fight back for the overtime right of day-rate workers. In one recently-filed FLSA collective action in the Eastern District of Michigan, the lead plaintiff came forward with allegations for herself and other similarly situated employees who also worked weeks, sometimes sixty or seventy hours, but only received a flat “day-rate” for each day worked.  Blanchard & Walker lawyers continue to investigate and talk to day-rate workers across transportation, service, and construction industries.