Unraveling the Most Commonly Litigated Wage and Hour Violation

Jay Rothman

June 6, 2023

In the world of employment law, disputes regarding wage and hour violations have become increasingly prevalent. Companies and employees are entangled in legal battles over various infractions, but one offence consistently dominates the courtroom. This article delves into the most commonly prosecuted wage and hour violation, exploring its implications, causes, and potential remedies.

Understanding the Importance of Wage and Hour Compliance

Before we delve into the most commonly prosecuted wage and hour violation, we must grasp the significance of wage and hour compliance in the modern workplace. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets federal standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, and record-keeping requirements. Compliance with these regulations is essential to protect employees from exploitation and ensure fair compensation for their work.

Shedding Light on Misclassification

One of the most frequently litigated wage and hour violations involves employee misclassification. Misclassification occurs when employers incorrectly classify workers as exempt from certain wage and hour protections, such as overtime pay or minimum wage requirements. This misclassification can occur in two ways: misclassifying employees as independent contractors or non-exempt employees as exempt.

The Independent Contractor Conundrum

The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is a common tactic some employers employ to evade certain wage and hour obligations. Companies can avoid providing benefits, overtime pay, and minimum it requirements by misclassifying workers. This practice is particularly prevalent in the gig economy, where workers often perform tasks on a project basis. However, the law imposes strict criteria for determining worker classification, including the level of control exerted by the employer. When misclassification occurs, employees are often denied their rightful compensation and seek legal recourse.

Non-Exempt vs. Exempt: A Thin Line

Another significant area of litigation arises from the misclassification of non-exempt employees as exempt. Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek. However, employers sometimes mistakenly classify employees as exempt from overtime pay, even though they do not meet the legal requirements for exemption. Commonly misclassified positions include administrative, executive, or professional roles. Such misclassifications can result from misinterpretations of job duties, job titles, or a lack of awareness of FLSA regulations.

Consequences and Remedies

Wage and hour violations can have severe consequences for both employees and employers. Employees denied fair compensation may be entitled to recover unpaid wages, overtime pay, liquidated damages, attorney fees, and other penalties. On the other hand, employers found guilty of violating wage and hour regulations can face significant financial penalties, damage to their reputation, and potentially costly legal proceedings.

To address and prevent wage and hour violations, employees should be vigilant about their rights and educate themselves on relevant labour laws. Employers must establish robust systems to ensure accurate classification of workers, maintain meticulous records, and regularly review and update their wage and hour policies.

The Path to Compliance

Employers should proactively address misclassification issues to avoid the most commonly prosecuted hour violation. This can be achieved by consulting legal experts or human resources professionals to ensure the proper classification of employees based on job duties and responsibilities. Implementing regular training programs for managers and employees on wage and hour compliance is also essential. Employers can significantly reduce the risk of misclassification and costly legal battles by fostering a culture of transparency and accountability.


Wage and hour violations continue to be a contentious issue within employment law. Among the various infractions, the misclassification of employees consistently emerges as the most commonly prosecuted violation. Whether through the misclassification of employees as independent contractors or the erroneous classification of non-exempt employees as exempt, these violations undermine workers’ rights and fair compensation. Employers must prioritize compliance with wage and hour regulations to avoid legal complications and protect the well-being of their workforce. Employers can foster a fair and equitable work environment by understanding the most commonly prosecuted wage and hour violation and implementing robust compliance measures.