Archive for June, 2010

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The Top 5 Ways Employers Get Around South Florida Overtime Wages Laws

June 30, 2010

Many people work overtime without the proper compensation because employers try to get around the overtime wage laws. In fact, the Department of Labor estimates that approximately 70 percent of employers are not complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This Act, in effect since 1937, requires non-exempt workers to be paid overtime wages if they work more than a standard 40 hour work week.

The following are the top 5 ways that employers try to bend the South Florida overtime wage laws:

1. Misclassifying Employees as Exempt Workers (Job Title and Salary) – Because the FLSA states that exempt employees are are not entitled to receive overtime pay, employers sometimes give their workers titles that imply that they are in different status than they actually are. The FLSA exemption rules can be confusing, but be assured that exemptions have nothing to do with a job title or job description. In addition, employees are often paid a salary instead of a hourly wage so the employer can avoid paying overtime. Being paid a salary, however, may not make you exempt from overtime wage compensation.

2. Unpaid Compensable Time – Many companies require workers to do "little" things off-the-clock. They often don’t compensate employees for these extras, but the time spent on these tasks can add up. Think about the times you have answered company emails or phone calls while on your lunch break, before you clock in, or after you clock out for the day. In addition, if you are required to put on or take off a uniform or personal protective equipment, come in early or stay late for a change-of-shift-meeting, or set up and clean up your work area, you may be entitled to your regular wages for the extra time you are spending on these tasks.

3. Comp Time Instead of Overtime Pay – Sometimes employers will give non-exempt workers time off in lieu of overtime pay. This compensatory time is usually referred to as "comp time." An example of this would be when a company offers comp time during a busy period, which the employee can take after the work has slowed down. The employee, however, may be missing out on the 1.5 times pay they should have received in wages instead of comp time. Comp time is legal, but should be given in the same increment as overtime wages would have been – at time-and-a-half per hour.

4. False Reporting – Many companies will not permit overtime or pay for it without advance authorization, so they refuse to count and pay for overtime hours worked. The FLSA, however, requires non-exempt employees to be paid for any overtime they put in.

5. Improperly Calculated Overtime Pay – Often, employers pay on a bi-weekly basis. For example, an employee may work 50 hours in one of those weeks and 30 during the other week. The employer will add the two weeks together and average the employee’s hours at 40 per week. Under the FLSA, however, the employee in this scenario would be entitled to overtime compensation for the 10 extra hours worked during the 50 hour week. In fact, the FLSA says that all work over 40 hours in a workweek must be paid at a rate of one and one-half times the employee’s regular hourly rate. This applies to non-exempt employees whether they get paid weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or on a monthly basis.

Don’t be afraid to stand up for your rights. The FLSA prohibits an employer from punishing or firing an employee who has asserted his or her rights to overtime wages.

Do you think you may have a South Florida overtime claim? Florida overtime attorney Joseph M. Maus can help you determine if your employer may owe you money. Call him at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today. The Law Office of Joseph M. Maus and Associates has handled some of the largest South Florida overtime claims. Attorneys in their office were recently appointed in Federal Court as lead counsel in an Overtime Class Action against a large Fortune 500 Company. Call their offices today for a free consultation or for more information on South Florida overtime claims.

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Fort Lauderdale Accident Injury Lawyer Lists Top 5 Causes of Car Accidents

June 18, 2010

Fort Lauderdale Accident Injury Lawyer Joseph M. Maus hears car accident stories every day, so he knows the vast majority of auto accidents are caused by driver error. Because we take car transportation for granted, many of us feel so comfortable behind the wheel that we multi-task while driving without giving it a second thought. Driver distraction in various forms ranks just behind driving while impaired as a major cause of accidents on American roadways. Awareness and understanding are the first steps toward reducing these accidents and increasing traffic safety.

Many factors can contribute to auto accidents. The top five causes are:

  • Drinking and Driving – This one is no secret; we hear about accidents involving drunk drivers almost every day. The risk of being involved in an accident where driver-impairment is a factor rises on the weekend when many people are relaxing from their work-week stresses and enjoying a few cold ones with friends. All the states in the U.S. consider a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of higher than .08 to be above the legal limit and it doesn’t take much to hit this limit. It isn’t enough to just tell people not to drink and drive: people who have been drinking invariably think they aren’t "drunk" and can drive home without a problem. The best thing to do when planning a night out with friends is to either designate someone in the group who will not drink and will be responsible for driving everyone else home or hiring a service that will get both driver and car home safely.
  • Cell Phone Use – Almost everyone has a cell phone nowadays; it can be eye-opening to sit at a traffic light and watch the number of cars that go by with a driver who has a cell phone held up to their ear! A study from Harvard University found that people who use a cell phone while driving are four times more likely to cause an accident. Even the use of hands-free or bluetooth technology doesn’t make cell phone use while driving much safer because concentrating on a conversation is distracting by itself. The solution to this problem is obvious: pull off the road to make a call or wait until you reach your destination before using your cell phone.
  • Texting While Driving – This is even more distracting to a driver than cell phone use! Studies have found that texting while driving causes a 400% increase in the time drivers spent with their eyes off the road. For teens, the increase is 600%. In fact, for an adult, for every 6 seconds of driving time, 4.6 seconds is spent with eyes off the road if the driver is sending or receiving a text message. Of all cell phone-related tasks, including dialing, talking, texting, or reaching for the phone while driving, texting is the most dangerous. Again, the best way to avoid a texting-related car accident is to wait to send or read a text until you are stopped somewhere or until you get to your destination.
  • Driver Distraction – Many things cause drivers to be distracted: reaching for a cell phone, changing the radio station, eating while driving, applying makeup or shaving while driving – the list goes on and on. If you are driving while distracted, your reaction rate is decreased by about 20 percent which means you will take longer to realize that you are in danger and longer to react to try to avoid an accident. Avoid driver distraction by concentrating on the road and your surroundings and limiting other activities while on the road.
  • Speeding – The faster you go, the higher the probability of a fatal car accident. It seems that everyone is in a hurry these days, but people who speed and cut in and out of traffic while trying to get somewhere faster don’t consider that the faster you travel, the harder it is to stop and the deadlier the impact if you hit something. Slow down and allow yourself extra time to get to your destination. Remember – speed kills!

You can lower your risk of being in a car accident and can avoid needing the services of a Fort Lauderdale Accident Injury lawyer by staying focused while on the road, keeping distractions to a minimum, and avoiding risky actions such as drinking before driving, speeding, texting, or cell phone use while driving. Knowledge is power – don’t be a statistic!

For more information if you have been in a car accident, contact Fort Lauderdale accident injury lawyer Joseph M. Maus, P.A.at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today.

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