It's starting to happen.
Wells Fargo & AutoZone have been sued (class-action status is currently pending) for mis-classifying employees.
With Wells Fargo, business banking specialists were allegedly mis-classified as exempt (from overtime, meal and rest breaks) when they were required to be 'on-call' on certain evenings.
In AutoZone's case, Assistant Managers were not compensated for working overtime (this is a case very reminiscent of the Long's Drugstore case in 2004).
The federal government is taking Wage & Hour violations seriously: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis recently announced plans to add 250 field investigators, increasing staff by 33%. The DOL believes 7 out of 10 businesses are not in compliance with Wage & Hour laws.
Garry Mathiason of Littler recently wrote:
No employment-law trend is more certain, universal or important than the total wage-and-hour compliance initiative and stopping the epidemic of wage-and-hour class-action (lawsuits)...More ominous and prescient are these words from Mathiason (and, I believe, completely true):
With thousands of plaintiffs' attorneys examining every aspect of the payroll process, employers must expect maximum scrutiny..."Every employee who is terminated or demoted, or who experiences an unpleasant workplace event, is encouraged by Internet and television advertising to seek the advice of counsel. In almost every intake interview, the attorney's questioning turns to wage-and-hour issues in an attempt to find additional claims. Inspired by the prospect of turning a small individual claim into a multimillion-dollar class-action, the organization's wage-and-hour compliance goes under the microscope."Thanks to Las Vegas Sun.