Wage retaliation is a big “NO-NO”

Wage theft is a crime as is retaliation for someone reporting it.

Occasionally I receive a comment on a blog from employees seeking help on their deplorable working situation. Some of them are pretty bad. They deal with not just unknowing bosses who make mistakes that result in incorrect pay, but they also deal with some bosses who are purposely steal money by illegally withholding pay. Then there are those bosses that retaliate when an employee says “Hey I think my check is incorrect.”

FLSA prohibits retaliation

I received just such a comment on a blog post the other day. The employee complained that their check was not correct. The unhappy boss then did not schedule the employee for a full week. That was an apparent act of retaliation for the employee’s complaint. Unfortunately the employee did not know what to do about it.
Fact Sheet # 77A: Prohibiting Retaliation Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), published by the US Department of Labor says:

Section 15(a)(3) of the FLSA states that it is a violation for any person to “discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any employee because such employee has filed any complaint or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to this Act, or has testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding, or has served or is about to serve on an industry committee.”

It further states:

Employees are protected regardless of whether the complaint is made orally or in writing. Complaints made to the Wage and Hour Division are protected, and most courts have ruled that internal complaints to an employer are also protected. (My emphasis)

Even if not covered by the FLSA

The interesting thing is that even companies or employees not covered the FLSA still come under the aegis of the FLSA. This protection is applied to employees, past employees, and potentially prospective employees. Employees can receive employment, reinstatement, back pay, and liquidated damages. You also end up paying for their attorneys. Oh and your name usually gets splashed across the press.

The remedy

The solution to these problems? Don’t retaliate. Have a program in place that trains managers and supervisors on how to recognize retaliation. Investigate every complaint of incorrect pay and resolve the problem. These may result from misunderstandings, not knowing proper procedures, or, as is sometimes the case, actual wrong doing by the supervisor.
Trying to save money by cheating or stealing from employees is never a good way to conduct business. With the massive amounts of publicity today almost everyone will get caught. It is cheaper, more effective, and makes your employees happier people if you obey the wage and hour laws.

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