In the event a Wage and Hour claim is filed against you, even if your business violates the Fair Labor Standards Act (or FLSA), you may still be able to limit damages or escape liability if one of the two“Good-Faith Defenses” applies.
In addition to the common factual defenses, employers can bring two Good-Faith Defenses to an employee’s Wage and Hour claim. In making a good-faith defense, employers concede that their employees actually have a valid claim but argue that they had a legitimate reason for violating the law and that it was done without malice. If you can successfully prove Good-Faith Defenses,you may effectively limit damages or even escape liability completely as long as you have a solid strategy and work with an experienced and skilled Florida Employment Lawyer.
Understanding the Good-Faith Defenses
When it comes to employers facing Wage and Hour claims, there are two Good-Faith Defenses available, which are based on Sections 10 and 11 of the Portal-to-Portal Act, 29 U.S. Code § 251 et seq. The first of the Good-Faith Defenses allows employers to avoid liability completely;the second allows them to limit the damages employees may collect.
The Good Faith Defense based on Section 10 of the Portal-to-Portal Act forgives an employer’s violation of the minimum wage and overtime requirements under the FLSA if that employer can successfully prove through solid evidence that he or she acted in complete conformity with any written administrative regulation, order,approval, ruling, or interpretation of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S.Department of Labor. In other words, if the Department of Labor allows the employer’s actions under an interpretation of the FLSA, the employer will not be liable for those actions as long as they were allowed at the moment they were taken. For example, if an employer decides that his or her assistant managers are not entitled to overtime and bases that decision on an opinion letter from the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, that employer will not be liable for making that decision – even if the opinion letter is later overturned.
Under Section 11 of the Portal-to-Portal Act,employers can reduce or even completely avoid a damages award if they can prove that they acted in good faith and there are reasonable grounds to believe they were not violating the FLSA.
The FLSA allows for two different types of damages, which are:
- Back pay: the wages the employee should have received if the employer had followed the law; and
- Liquidated damages: an award that is equal to the back pay award, meant to punish employers for their violation.
If you can successfully use the Section 11 defense, no matter what you do, you will still be liable for breaking the law and will be required to pay the back pay award to your employee. However, it is possible to reduce or even avoid the additional award for liquidated damages.
In order to use the Section 11 defense effectively,you must show through solid evidence that you did indeed act in good faith,which could be defined as an honest intention to do the right thing. Additionally,you will need to show that you had reasonable grounds to believe that you were not acting in violation of the law.
In some cases, employers have successfully used this defense by proving that they relied on their lawyer’s legal advice that their conduct was correct and not a violation of the FLSA.
All Legal Defenses Start with an Experienced Lawyer
If you are an employer in the State of Florida who is facing Wage and Hour claims and is looking to use Good-Faith Defenses successfully, the first thing you must do is hire an experienced Florida Employment Lawyer to help you create your defense strategy and increase your possibilities of coming out victorious.
If you believe you did the right thing and know you can prove you did, then I can be your lawyer.