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Travel bonuses may not be compensation per the FLSA

Many California employees are entitled to be compensated 150 percent of their normal wages when working overtime hours. Overtime pay is required when a non-exempt employee works more than 40 hours in a week. An investigation into a construction company determined that 112 workers were not paid the standard overtime rate for hours worked over 40 in a week. Instead, they were given $3 an hour in per diem pay when working at remote job sites.

This additional pay was provided to workers in checks separate from the ones that they received for the first 40 hours worked per week. The investigator determined that the employees were owed $98,198.11 in back wages covering a period from October 2013 to June 2016. The company agreed with the finding, but it also contended that it should receive a deduction for the travel bonuses paid.

However, a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia found that this was not permissible under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This was because the travel bonus or per diem paid to workers was not meant to be compensation for hours worked. Instead, it was similar to reimbursement for costs incurred by workers while traveling. In fact, if it were considered compensation, it may require the company to pay an even higher overtime wage.

In many cases, failure to pay overtime wages when earned may be an employment law violation. Workers may be entitled to the lost wages plus liquidated damages and other relief. An attorney may be able to review a case to determine if a worker may be entitled to overtime or other back wages from an employer. This may be done by reviewing pay stubs or taking statements from employees or representatives of the employer.

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