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May 14, 2010
How HR Can Prevent Class Action Wage and Hour Lawsuits

In a BLR webinar titled "Reducing Overtime Costs: What You Legally Can—and Can't—Do to Keep Workers at Their Straight-Time Rates," Laura P. Worsinger, Esq., discussed five tips to prevent class action wage and hour lawsuits, especially overtime lawsuits:

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  1. Conduct a comprehensive internal audit. Review hiring documentation, categorizing employees, pay practices, bonuses, pay stubs, meal and rest breaks, job descriptions and performance evaluations. Once a "major" audit has occurred and changes have been implemented, then, spot-check audits should occur at least quarterly.
  2. Train HR and supervisors. Educate your company about the serious nature of these lawsuits, the applicable laws and regulations, and ways to minimize the chances of your company being targeted. Human resources personnel and supervisors should have training about payroll and time-keeping requirements, data retention, job descriptions, and performance evaluations.
  3. Develop different practices/operations between employees and/or locales. If your company can show that its practices vary by individual and/or by location, the chances of a class action succeeding against the company are minimized because the "commonality" element necessary for class action treatment will not be met.
  4. Create the right documentation. In conducting the audit, update and/or replace outdated or inaccurate documents (applications, hire letters, handbooks, job descriptions, background check forms, etc.). Make sure that payroll and time-keeping processes are accurate and accessible. Put into place an electronic policy about the use, maintenance and preservation of all electronic data.
  5. Consider employee morale. If the workforce perceives that decisions are made fairly and based on logic, less chances of these lawsuits, particularly overtime lawsuits.

Laura P. Worsinger, Esq. is Of Counsel with the Los Angeles office of Dykema Gossett PLLC. She has broad counseling and litigation experience and specializes in the defense of employers in individual and class actions involving wage and hour violations, misclassification, discrimination, wrongful termination, and other employment-related proceedings. She can be contacted at

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