"The violations are becoming more recognized," says Vaught. "I don't think it is because of the economy, I just think it is just because employees are becoming more aware of their rights."
Vaught has just filed a class-action suit against SuperMedia (formerly known as Idearc Inc.) on behalf of potentially hundreds and hundreds of current and former employees who allege the company short-changed them on overtime pay, and "the violations are right there in the pay stubs," he adds.
The complaint covers "inside sales media consultants" who worked in call centers across the US selling yellow page advertising, webpage services and direct mail services mostly to businesses under the name of SuperMedia.
"The company acknowledged the inside sales staff was due overtime and it was paying them overtime, but a big component of their wages was commission," says Vaught. "But the company was basing the overtime rate of pay only on the salary and excluding the commission."
"The law is not in dispute here," adds Vaught, saying, "it is about as crystal clear as you can get that you have to include salary and commissions in the overtime rate of pay."
Vaught spends most of his time on wage and hour disputes and violations of the FLSA at the large law firm of Baron & Budd.
Raised in northern Texas, Vaught paid his way through college by working on the oil rigs and saw older rig workers who thought they were fortunate to be paid a flat salary without realizing they were entitled to overtime. "It was a great character builder and a real eye opener," he says.
And although he says employees are far more aware of their rights these days, many still don't realize what the rules are, and it is not usual to find people who are not getting what they should in their pay check.
"Many people think if I am paid a base salary, as opposed to an hourly rate, I am not entitled to overtime," says Vaught. "There are some companies that simply overlook that and there are some companies that know they should be paying overtime, but are also aware that many employees may not even know the rules."
As for the SuperMedia class action, Vaught says, "I am getting lots and lots of calls from employees and former employees of SuperMedia," says Vaught. "I never try to make any predictions until the case is done, but, yes, the suit does have significant potential for significant damages given the blatant nature of the violations."
Allen Vaught is an experienced litigator and heads up Baron & Budd's Healthcare Third Party Liability and Fair Labor Standards Sections. Vaught was a member of the US Army Reserve from 1997 to 2005. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and commanded one of the first units to enter Fallujah.