HR101: It’s bad to withhold overtime pay until the employee submits to demands for sex


Call it a rule of reason. Or, maybe, it just doesn’t pass the smell test. We could even file this under “Just Sayin’.”

And, of course, it would fracture a few laws, among others, the Fair Labor Standards Act.

[Cue music]

In Maphurs v. Cooling Tower Systems, Inc. (opinion here), the plaintiff claimed that she was not paid for all of the overtime work that she performed. Then, after the plaintiff complained that she was not being paid for the overtime work, she alleges that her boss paid her some of the money, but not the rest — until the plaintiff gave into his sexual demands.

The non-coitus-related overtime fundamentals.

But, sex aside, to have a claim for overtime, a plaintiff must demonstrate that: (1) she worked overtime without compensation; and (2) the employer knew or should have known about the overtime. If the plaintiff presents enough evidence, then the burden shifts to the employer to rebut the plaintiff.

Where a plaintiff alleges that she was shorted overtime, often, time cards can be an employer’s best friend. Except, in Maphurs, the plaintiff testified that she was told by her supervisor not to record her overtime. For example, her supervisor allegedly instructed her to clock out when she worked through lunch. Facts like these enable a plaintiff, like Malphurs, to get past summary judgment and on to trial.

That holds true even without the sex-for-overtime allegations, which I’ll concede isn’t really all that germane to this post. It’s actually quite clickbait-y.

Employer takeaways.

So, let’s toss out the lede and focus on a few ways that employers can control overtime abuse:

  1. Consider a policy requiring employees to obtain prior written approval before working overtime (and communicate that rule to employees and supervisors).
  2. Forbid non-exempt employees from working during lunch (although, if they do, you need to pay them).
  3. Have employees review and sign off on their weekly time entries.




Image Credit: Pixabay