DALLAS – American law firm Baron & Budd is accepting cases for current and former unloader employees of Capstone Logistics, LLC, who may not have been paid all wages due to them under special rules that apply to calculating overtime wages for workers paid on a piece rate basis.
Piece rate pay is where the employer pays the employee a set amount of money or a percentage based on completion of a task. Capstone employees were generally paid a piece rate basis that was determined by the number and weight of the trailers they unloaded.
In the U.S., overtime wage laws have a special provision for calculating overtime wages for workers who are paid on a piece rate basis and who work both productive time (i.e. unloading trailers) and non-productive time (i.e. waiting at a warehouse to unload the next trailer).
Specifically, the default overtime wage calculation method requires the employer to divide the piece rate wages received by only the “productive hours worked up to 40 hours” and to then multiply 1.5 times that number for all hours worked over 40 in the workweek, both “productive” and “non-productive.”
For example, assume a piece rate paid unloader works 40 productive hours unloading trailers and 20 non-productive hours waiting between the unloading of trailers in a week, for a total of 60 hours worked (under U.S. federal law, both the productive and non-productive time count towards overtime).
For that week’s work, the unloader is paid piece rate pay of $700. Under the default method, that unloader’s overtime wages are $525. That amount is calculated by first dividing $700 by the 40 productive hours worked, which equals $17.50. Then multiply $17.50 times 1.5 to get the overtime hour multiplier of $26.25. Multiply that overtime hour multiplier by the 20 overtime hours worked that week (which again includes productive and non-productive hours) which equals $525.00 in overtime wages owed.
In that same example, if the employer improperly divides the $700 piece rate pay by all hours worked instead of only productive hours worked, it shorts the employee $174.90 in unpaid overtime wages That is calculated as follows: $700/60 total hours (productive and non-productive) worked = $11.67. $11.67 *1.5 = $17.51 overtime hourly multiplier. $17.51 overtime hourly multiplier * 20 overtime hours worked = $350.20 in overtime wages, which is $174.80 less than the $525.00 overtime wage calculated in the first example.
To make matters worse, some employers only pay a half-time overtime multiplier instead of the time and one-half required under the default rule for piece rate pay. In the same example, that would result in an employee being underpaid $408.20. That is calculated as follows: $700/60 total hours (productive and non-productive) worked = $11.67. $11.67 *0.5 = $5.84 overtime hourly multiplier. $5.84 overtime hourly multiplier * 20 overtime hours worked = $116.80 in overtime wages, which is $408.20 less than the $525.00 overtime wage calculated in the first example.
When an employer does not pay all overtime wages owed, then it generally must pay the employee double that amount. So, in the first example, that would result in $1,050.00 ($525 * 2) being owed to the employee for that one workweek.
This default overtime rule for piece rate employees applies to other workers besides unloaders. For example, it is common in many industries, including satellite installation, cable installation, and welding, to pay employees on a piece rate basis. If the default rule is not applied by an employer, then it may result in workers being owed significant back overtime wages and other money.
Baron & Budd is currently accepting cases against Capstone Logistics in states including, but not limited to: Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.
“It doesn’t matter if an employee is actively engaged in the unloading of a truck or is waiting for a truck to arrive,” said Allen Vaught, head of the Employment Law Group at Baron & Budd. “Under the piece rate pay overtime wage general rule, employees must be paid overtime wages for both productive and non-productive time. Furthermore, in determining the total overtime wages owed, the total piece rate pay should be divided by only the productive hours worked, and then multiplied by 1.5. If the employer divides the total piece rate pay by both productive and non-productive hours, it can result in significant overtime wages not being paid to the employee.”
The maximum lookback period to seek unpaid wages varies from state to state. As stated in the U.S. federal Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA), that time period is three years. In other words, if a claim was filed today under only the FLSA, back wages and damages could be sought from December 1, 2015, and forward until the earlier of the end of employment or end of the wage practice in question.