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Employee classification factors into unpaid wages suit

An employee of a company in Lewisville, Texas is currently suing for $40,000 in unpaid wages. For many people, that is an entire year's wages.

The man reportedly filed the suit against Viva Railings its owners in early October, claiming that he worked for the company between November 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010 as a nonexempt employee. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, a nonexempt employee is one who must be paid at least the federal minimum wage rate for the first 40 hours of work in any workweek. The employee is also owed an overtime rate of at least time and on-half of the regular rate for hours worked beyond the initial 40.

Whether or not an employee is classified as exempt or nonexempt is sometimes difficult for employers. The factors determining the decision are the duties of the position. Generally speaking, a nonexempt employee is one whose work is fairly routine and has set standards. These types of positions include bank tellers and shipping/receiving clerks.

In the Texas case, the employee worked an average of 60 to 70 hours per week. He accuses the company and its owners of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. The defendants have already partially paid the worker $16,575 of the amount he claims they owe, but the employee says they still owe $40,000.

Sources said the plaintiff seeks damages for compensatory time, physical pain, mental anguish and emotional distress, as well as punitive damages, attorney's fees, court costs and interest. As is obvious, these types of cases can be expenses for employers.

Source: Southeast Texas Record,, "Employee sues for $40,000 in unpaid overtime wages," Michelle Keahey, October 27, 2011.

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