Employees trust their employers to be honest and to accurately track their hours so that they will be paid for all of the work they do. Employees deserve to receive full payment for all of the hours that they work for their employers. Unfortunately, however, some employers are dishonest and try to get away with shaving off time from their employee’s timesheets so that they can pay them less than what they deserve.
While you might think that employees are likelier to fudge their timesheets to claim they worked more hours than they did, Some employers instead are the ones that commit timecard fraud. With the advent of digital timecards and the ability to use metadata and forensics to trace what occurred, employees have a greater ability to prove that their timecards were altered by their employers. If you believe your employer has falsified your timecards to pay you less than what you are owed, you should speak to the employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler.
When Is it Legal for Employers to Change Timesheets?
There are some cases in which an employer’s alteration of an employee’s timesheet is legal. For example, if you forgot to clock out at the end of your shift, your supervisor can change your timesheet to record the hours you actually worked. Your timesheet might also be changed by your employer to reflect sick days you might have used. However, the boundaries for altering timesheets are narrow. When employers change timesheets to defraud their employees of the wages they are owed, the employers might be liable for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This law mandates employers to pay their non-exempt employees 1.5 times their normal hourly pay rates for all hours worked beyond 40 during a week.
Using Company Policies to Avoid Overtime
Some employers try to get around paying employees the overtime premium by creating company policies that restrict how many hours employees are allowed to work each week. When an employee works more than 40 hours during a week with this type of policy in place, they face a quandary of whether they should admit to violating their company’s policy or cheating themselves out of overtime by failing to include the extra hours on their timesheets. However, employees in this type of situation do have legal recourse.
A 2015 case in Georgia addressed this type of situation. In Bailey v. Titlemax of Georgia, 776 F.3d 797 (11th Cir. 2015), an employee of Titlemax filed a lawsuit against Titlemax. The employee’s supervisor claimed that Titlemax had a policy against the payment of overtime, and the employee thought that he wasn’t entitled to receive overtime compensation. The employee’s supervisor reduced the employee’s recorded hours and falsified his timecard for one year. Titlemax claimed that its company policy required employees to report and verify their hours and argued that the employee was at fault for not accurately reporting his hours instead of the company for failing to pay the overtime he deserved. The court ruled in the employee’s favor while pointing out the uneven bargaining power between employees and employers.
Employees who have not been paid for all hours worked do have the burden of proving their claims. However, they can prove they were not paid for all of their hours and the amount of unpaid overtime they are owed by reasonable inference.
What Can You Do If Your Employer Has Falsified Your Timecard?
If you believe that your employer has illegally altered your timecards, you should understand your rights. Your employer can’t deny the wages you have earned by claiming it has a company policy against working overtime hours.
Make sure to gather and keep all of the following types of evidence to bring to your consultation with an employment lawyer:
- Text messages
Keep track of your hours worked and document them. Your employer is required to maintain an accurate record of all of the hours you have worked. If a dispute arises, your employer will be required to disclose those records for review in court. If your employer can’t provide those records or refuses to turn them over, you will only need to provide a reasonable estimate of your hours to recover compensation for what you are owed.
If your employer has failed to keep a full accounting of all hours that you have worked, you won’t have to prove each unpaid hour you worked. An experienced employment lawyer can help to gather evidence and calculate a reasonable estimate of what you are owed. Your lawyer might also file a claim against your employer on your behalf to hold your employer accountable for its unlawful actions.
Consult an Experienced Employment Lawyer at Swartz Swidler
If you believe that your employer has been falsifying your timecards to try to avoid paying you everything you are owed, you have legal rights and should consult an employment lawyer at Swartz Swidler as soon as possible. We provide free consultations and can help you understand the legal merits of your potential claim. If we agree to take your case, our attorneys will fully investigate what happened and work to recover full compensation on your behalf. Call us today for a free consultation at (856) 685-7420 to learn about the potential legal remedies available to you.