The Fair Labor Standards Act requires payment for all hours an employer suffers or permits an employee to work. This standard is broad, and an employee’s timesheet is not a panacea against claims that he or she worked additional time where managerial employees may have corrupted that timesheet, either directly or through their communications to the employees. A new decision from the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the Circuit encompassing Florida and thus a prominent source of authority on wage-hour issues, highlights these principles. Bailey v. Titlemax of Ga., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 614 (11th Cir. 2015).
Bailey sets forth an approach similar to that used by the Second Circuit in Kuebel v. Black & Decker Inc., 643 F.3d 352 (2d Cir. 2011); namely, where a plaintiff presents credible – though contested – evidence that managerial employees both changed the hours he recorded on his timesheet (in a handful of instances) and instructed him to modify his timesheets to reduce the hours worked, a question of fact was presented as to whether unpaid work time had taken place with employer knowledge. Importantly, the Court did not state that the mere allegation of additional time worked in the face of a timesheet would in and of itself be sufficient, and indeed the same Circuit court recently upheld the rejection of such a challenge.
Good timekeeping practices remain step one in FLSA compliance with respect to overtime-eligible employees. As highlighted by this decision, managerial training to ensure management actions and/or communications do not create liability is a close second.