Getting paid extra for delayed paychecks under the FLSA
When the federal government shut down, mired in Congressional gridlock, they couldn't close the prisons. They didn't want to shut down all the airport security screening either. And what about government employees at hospitals?
Fact is, a lot of employees were considered too immediately essential to be given the time off. But with no money authorized to pay these employees, the executive decided to delay paying them for their work until appropriations were authorized.
There's just a couple problems with that - most significantly, it means they weren't paid minimum wages or overtime required under the Fair Labor Standards Act on their regularly scheduled pay day. The government argued
no harm, no foul because they were paid everything they were owed, and it was only delayed a week or two.
The Court of Federal Claims disagreed. The court held that
on time payment was a requirement of the statute, based in part on the Supreme Court's venerable decision in Brooklyn Savings Bank v. O'Neil, 324 U.S. 697 (1945).
What this means is that the employees may get
liquidated damages, which is, in essence, an extra paycheck over and above what they should have been paid. So, for example, if a $700 paycheck is delayed for a month, then, in addition to paying you the $700 back, your employer also owes you an extra $700 just because the payment was late.
The same applies to overtime. It is illegal to delay paying overtime - the overtime payment must be included in the same, regularly scheduled check as the rest of the pay for that week. A delayed overtime payment entitles an employee to liquidated damages that double the overtime payment.
This is true no matter who you work for - if you are covered by any minimum wage law, then you are entitled to payment on time.
I'm pursuing a case like this right now against the United States Postal Service for repeatedly missing payments and screwing up deductions. You can read the publicly available complaint here.
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