Proving Hours Worked for Oregon Wage Claims

Ever wonder what happens when BOLI seeks to collect unpaid wages for an employee but the employer does not have records of how many hours the employee actually worked? A recent BOLI Final Order is a reminder of how the number of hours worked is determined when an employer does not have accurate records (or in this case, any records at all).

By law, employers are obligated to maintain accurate records of time worked by their employees.  When an employer does not maintain accurate records, a court may rely on evidence from which a “just and reasonable inference may be drawn” including credible testimony from the employee as to the amount of hours worked, and credible testimony from co-workers or other people familiar with the hours worked by the employee.  In the Matter of Autoteam, LLC, et al. (internal citations omitted).   In Autoteam, the wage claim was dismissed because the claimant did not appear to testify at the hearing on his wage claim, and no other credible witnesses testified about the hours he worked.  In the absence of such testimony, because the wage claimant bears the burden of proving that they performed work for which they were not properly compensated, BOLI was not able establish how many hours the employee worked (or whether the amount the employee was paid adequately compensated the employee for such hours).

Bottom line: keep accurate records of employee hours and wages paid to employees for all work performed.  And, from a practical standpoint, if your records are incomplete or inaccurate and an employee brings a claim for unpaid wages, make sure you have credible witnesses to establish when the employee worked and what they were paid, or hope the employee and their witnesses fail to show up at the hearing).

http://www.oregon.gov/boli/Legal/BOLI%20Final%20Orders%20issued%20in%202015/Auto_Team%20LLC_01-15.pdf

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