The falsification of timesheets in the workplace is a very serious offense under the law. When some people hear about falsifying timesheets, they immediately assume that it was the employee who was doing the falsifying. However, a Georgia employment attorney can tell you that it is not only an offense that is committed by employees–employers are often guilty of the violation as well.
Employees should be aware that there are laws that govern employers, one of which is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the FLSA, employees are permitted to sue their employers if the employers alter their timesheets and/or other pay records to avoid paying overtime wages. The suit can include not only an employee’s immediate supervisor, but also the owners of the business, the top executives and depending on the facts, even people in human resources. Employees should be aware, however, that there are certain times in which employers are permitted to change their employees timesheets.
When Are Employers Allowed to Make Timesheet Changes?
The law requires employers to maintain certain time-related records for non-exempt employees. Employers can use any method of timekeeping they choose and they are also allowed to let supervisors keep track of their employees’ work hours. Still, it is ultimately the employer’s responsibility to ensure that employee timesheets accurately reflect the time worked.
There are times in which an employer is allowed to change an employee’s timesheet. For instance, if the employee forgets to clock in at the beginning of the workday, the employer can manually enter the employee’s time in order to ensure that the employee is paid for the actual time worked. Also, in cases of sick days, the employer can change the timesheet to reflect that the sick day was paid as a sick day and not as time worked. However, as your Georgia employment attorney will tell you, some employers go beyond what is allowed under the law with respect to altering timesheets.
What Remedies Are Available to Employees if Their Employers Improperly Alter Their Timesheets?
As stated above, there are times when an employer is permitted to change an employee’s timesheet; however, there are a number of instances in which timesheet alterations violate the law. For example, some employers might choose to change an employee’s timesheet in order to avoid paying the proper amount overtime as required by law. Some employees even alter timesheets to avoid paying any overtime at all. Lawsuits related to overtime payments are very common and can result in the employer being required to pay back pay, attorney fees and other damages.
Employees should also be aware that employers who are found to have willfully violated the FLSA can also face criminal prosecution and even jail time, depending on the circumstances. An employee who believes that his or her timesheet has been altered might also seek to hold the manager or some other responsible party personally liable. What that means is that a supervisor who approves timesheets on behalf of the employer might be held liable, along with the employer, and that supervisor’s personal assets might be seized.
Another common fact pattern is when the employer requires or even simply pressures its employees to submit false timesheets. In these cases, the employer may attempt to argue that the employee was at fault, but this argument usually fails because it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the timesheets are accurate. Most juries and judges can easily understand that employees will do almost anything to keep their jobs in a down economy, including underreporting their hours if their employer pressures them to do so. Often employers have a policy that employees should not work unapproved overtime hours. Whatever the employer’s intention for having such a policy, these policies frequently result in foreseeable violations of the wage and hour laws.
If you have questions or concerns regarding alterations to your timesheets, contact a Georgia employment attorney at John L. Mays, Attorney at Law today to discuss your legal options.