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Whistleblower Forces LinkedIn to Pay $6 Million

A Whistleblower sheds light on LinkedIn overtime failures.

You would think that a social media organization built around the idea of helping employees and employers find each other, helping build networks of business people around the globe and being one of the largest web based employee networks in the world would be able to figure out simple overtime. If you thought that, you’d be wrong. At least until whistleblowers at LinkedIn brought the company’s failures to the attention of the United States Department of Labor.

In a settlement spanning four states, Illinois, California, New York and Nebraska (Nebraska?), the company was found guilty of failing to pay employees overtime from February 2012 through February 2014, the time span covered by this suit, not necessarily the time span that covered all violations, all in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The problems arose from the company’s classification of certain staff positions and the employees who held those positions as ‘exempt’ when, according to Department of Labor guidelines, they are not.

LinkedIn failed to track the overtime hours of sales staff, recruiting and marketing employees because it thought they were exempt. Having literally thousands of attorney members who handle little things like employment law, apparently didn’t spur them to actually ask if they were exempt or not. But the DOL heard the complaints of employees and gave them an answer.

The company was ordered to pay $3.3 million in unpaid back wages and $2.5 million in damages to approximately 359 workers who made up the class. That number rounds out to about $16,000 per affected worker…a nice chunk of change and vindication for several years of overtime abuse.

It is common for employees of web based companies to be the victims of overtime abuse by employers. The ability to work anyplace you have your tablet or laptop is one advantage to web-based work, but also drawback, one which LinkedIn and other employers like it tend to take advantage of.

According to Department of Labor, District Director Susana Blanco of the San Francisco office, “‘Off the clock’ hours are all too common for the American worker. This practice harms workers, denies them the wages they have rightfully earned and takes away time with families.”

The company must also pay stricter attention to its overtime policies, and educate managers on the classification of employees. Going forward, LinkedIn will operate under a compliance agreement with the DOL that ensures the company will provide compliance training and make sure all non-exempt employees have copies of LinkedIn’s overtime policy. The company will also meet with managers of employees that have been affected by the violations and hand out reminders to give payment for all overtime worked. Furthermore, the company will remind employees that LinkedIn prohibits any retaliation for employees acting as whistleblowers.