Dueling Time Cards: The Appellate Court Provides Guidance On Resolving Unpaid Wage Claims

by Pullman & Comley - Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law
Contact

Pullman & Comley - Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law

Wage and hour law requires employers to keep true and accurate time records for payment of wages and overtime. This is usually a routine exercise with respect to non-exempt employees, for whom employers will have detailed records provided by payroll companies or their own payroll procedures which are required to show, among other things, the total daily and total weekly hours worked and the beginning and ending time of each work period, computed to the nearest unit of fifteen minutes.  But time records are ordinarily not kept for employees who are considered non-exempt (although state regulations require salary payment records to be kept for non-exempt employees). Failure to keep accurate records can be a problem when employees who had been treated as exempt or as independent contractors assert a claim for unpaid wages.

When that happens, it often turns out that the employee has been keeping his own time records, and will offer detailed notebooks or spreadsheets showing hundreds of allegedly unpaid hours, which the employer can have difficulty in refuting. A recent decision of the Connecticut Appellate Court, Evans v. Tiger Claw, Inc., describes the method that courts use to analyze this type of claim.

The plaintiff was a salesman who was treated by the defendant as an independent contractor, and was paid on a commission basis. At the trial of his lawsuit for unpaid wages, he produced several spreadsheets which he claimed were contemporaneous records of daily administrative work over a three-year period, for which he claimed compensation on an hourly basis.  The defendant had no time records of its own, instead responding with testimony that the plaintiff’s claims were not credible.

The Appellate Court applied an analysis derived from a 1946 U. S. Supreme Court case, Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, which can be summarized as follows:

  • If the employer has maintained accurate and proper records of wages and hours, the employer’s records will govern;
  • If the employer’s records are inaccurate or inadequate, the employee may produce his own evidence of work performed for which he claims compensation;
  • The employer then has the burden of producing other evidence of work performed or evidence negating the employee’s records;
  • But the employee has the ultimate plaintiff’s burden of persuading the court in his favor, so that if the employer can show that the employee’s claims are not credible, the employer can win the case even without time records.

Which is what happened in the Evans v. Tiger Claw, Inc. case.  The employer’s witnesses were able to refute the claims, and the trial court found that the employee’s spreadsheets were not contemporaneous records, and that the number of administrative hours claimed by the plaintiff was “not believable, and in some instances, barely humanly possible.”  In short, the trial court did not find the plaintiff to be credible, and so was not persuaded that the plaintiff was owed any unpaid wages.

However, the takeaway is that an employer cannot count on an employee’s overreaching and making a poor witness.  Proper classification of workers, and accurate and complete payroll records for both non-exempt and exempt employees, are the best defense against unpaid wage claims.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Pullman & Comley - Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Pullman & Comley - Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law
Contact
more
less

Pullman & Comley - Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.