Employment and Overtime Cases Surge Amid COVID Pandemic

Employment and Overtime Cases Surge Amid COVID Pandemic

If there is one sector of the economy hit hardest by the global pandemic, it was employment. According to research from Pew Research Center, 25% of adults in the USA report that either themselves or a member of their household had lost their job or were laid off as a result of COVID.

But job loss isn’t the only challenge facing both employers and employees alike. Disparities in pay, improperly calculated (or ignored) overtime wages, and other issues have spread as fast as the virus itself.

With everyone feeling the pressure, and money tight, some employers have cut corners, leading to a surge in employment law questions and lawsuits related to operations during COVID-19.

These emerging risks for workers and their employers represent the evolving landscape and ‘new normal’ that we all must adapt to. This makes knowing your rights a vital component of not only staying compliant but making sure that you are being treated fairly (or treating others fairly).

The Rise in Workplace-related Lawsuits

The number of COVID cases wasn’t the only thing setting records in 2020. Last year brought with it a record number of employee-driven class action lawsuits in both state and federal courts, with over 1,000 workplace lawsuits filed. Some research puts this number closer to 1500.

These lawsuits mostly focused on disputes regarding:

  • Workplace safety
  • Issues surrounding pay when working from home
  • Overtime pay (calculations, etc.)
  • Discrimination
  • Medical leave;
  • And more…

Just as disturbing is that this trend is poised to continue pace well into 2021 (and perhaps beyond). A slower than anticipated vaccine rollout, combined with the looming threat of COVID variants, all point towards a year wrought with employment disputes.

A Closer Look at Wage and Overtime Disputes

A look at some of the filings revealed that a significant percentage of employment disputes filed in courts were about disparities between wages and hours worked.

For example, some employees contended that they were required to work ‘off the clock’ without pay. In other claims, staff reported being underpaid for hours worked or not paid for overtime despite working over 40-hours in a given week.

Other cases spanned the gambit, with some workers suing due to not being compensated when working from home despite being logged into company systems, and others claiming they were not compensated for time spent on putting on or taking off protective gear.

Out of the wage-related and overtime cases filed in 2019, an estimated 33% were related to COVID-19.

Know and Protect Your Rights

If you are an employer with concerns over how to adapt your employment practices to comply with new rules and regulations regarding COVID, or an employee interested in finding out what your rights are, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Our law firm has helped individuals on both sides of the fence make sure they are being fairly treated and compensated while working within the framework of the law.