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Florida Labor Law Lawyer

Employer Must Reimburse Workers For Unpaid Overtime

Undocumented and illegal workers in the United States often face a dilemma when attempting to find work in the United States. Many employers attempt to pay workers below the minimum wage requirement by claiming the undocumented status of the worker exempts employers from compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act regarding minimum wage. While the Department of Labor has long held otherwise, employers have continued to use the argument with the workers who would accept work below the legal pay rate because they felt legally powerless to argue.

Several federal district courts have ruled in the past that there is no exemption for employer compliance regarding pay standards, the 8th Circuit Court has recently upheld the district court rulings in Lucas vs Jerusalem Caffe. Employers are now required to pay at least the legal minimum wage to all workers. In addition, the case included a claim of no pay for overtime hours, which the circuit court also ruled as illegal. The employers had claimed to the court that the workers “volunteered” to work below the legal minimum pay rate. Calling this employer claim “a fantastic story,” the court awarded the plaintiff workers $140,000 dollars in back pay and unpaid overtime.

This decision will have an obvious impact in certain regions of the United States, especially in states with high populations of immigrant workers like Florida. The argument provided by the Jerusalem Caffe in support of circumventing the law is used regularly in these regions, as many employers pay a flat weekly cash rate with no consideration for any hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour work week. The number of individuals in these areas who have a potential claim is unknown, and many of these individuals may still be working. A current working status may be a deterrent for those wanting to file, but fear typical retaliation or termination if they file a legal claim.

Anyone who is working or has worked in a similar situation should contact the Law Offices of Evan M. Ostfeld, P.A., located in Coral Springs, Florida, for an honest and accurate assessment of a potential claim. Mr. Ostfeld has been a practicing workers compensation lawyer in Southern Florida for over 20 years, and he understands that situations like this are common in the Florida area. It is important to retain an experienced and effective Florida labor law lawyer to ensure a fair and equitable settlement when an employer has illegally exploited your employment status based on documentation.