The Wage and Overtime Laws Apply to Former Employees

Clients and referring counsel often ask whether workers can bring a wage or overtime lawsuit against a former employer and, if so, how far back their damages can extend. Here’s what you need to know:

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and every similar state law, employees can sue former employers for wage and overtime violations. In fact, well over 50% of our firm’s clients no longer work for the defendant company.

The statute of limitations period for an FLSA claim is either two years or, in the event of a “willful violation,” three years. See 29 U.S.C. § 255(a). However, under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (“PMWA”), which generally offers the same wage and overtime protections as the FLSA, the statute of limitations period always is three years. Thus, in Pennsylvania, a worker who files suit on September 1, 2009 can recover damages going back to September 1, 2006.

That’s why it’s so important for your clients to commence their wage and overtime action as promptly as possible. This is true even if their worker’s compensation claim is pending. In fact, resolution of the wage and overtime suit might even enhance your client’s worker’s compensation award by elevating her weekly earnings figure.