I-TEAM: What are your legal rights if you are not paid what you’re owed

Local employment attorney answers most common questions

Many of you have reached out asking the I-TEAM for help after a ransomware attack knocked out the payroll systems used by several local businesses.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many of you have reached out asking the I-TEAM for help after a ransomware attack knocked out the payroll systems used by several local businesses. Employees at UF Health Jacksonville, Baptist Health, Southeast Georgia Health System and Pepsi Co. tell us they have not been paid for the extra hours they have worked since the attack on Dec. 11. They say they are owed hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of dollars in overtime, incentive pay and/or shift differential pay.

We asked local employment attorney Tad Delegal to explain their legal rights. He answers the four most common questions:

Is there a timeline by which the back pay must be paid?

Delegal: “No, but if they fail to pay the employees the money, then under the Fair Labor Standards Act, there’s overtime due, then that overtime can be doubled as liquidated damages. So you, as an employee, have the right to be paid and double if you force the company to court, if they fail to pay. They have to pay your attorney’s fees. They could be liable for interest as well.”

If you are not getting paid what you are owed, will you be fired if you stop working until the payroll problem is fixed?

Delegal: “Possibly yes. If the employee just walked off the job because he or she hasn’t been paid they are still entitled to money, but they voluntarily quit at that point.”

Can you continue to work your normal hours, but refuse to work overtime?

Delegal: “Well, they don’t really have the right to do that, especially in a non-unionized workplace or something like that. The union could negotiate that, but generally, even then, employers have the right to set the hours at work. The employee just has the right to compensation once the employee has worked.”

Can I be fired, if I complain to my boss or management about missing pay?

Delegal: “If they complain about the situation they are protected under the National Labor Relations Act. They are also protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act. So if they engage in what is called protected concerted activity, which is advocating for themselves and others, they have some protections there.”

Something else you should know: Delegal said be sure that you are keeping your own records of the time you worked.

“If the hospital does not have the records, and if Kronos has lost the records or been stolen through the hack or whatever, at that point since it is the hospital’s duty to maintain the records, if the employees went to court against them, the employee’s records would be what would prevail because the hospital could not say those are not the right record. They have to go with what employee’s said,” explained Delegal.

Employees at Baptist Health tell the I-TEAM the hospital has notified them in writing that if their paycheck is short more than 50% of their normal pay, Baptist will cut them a manual check.

Some workers tell us they have not been paid overtime and for shift work for nearly six weeks. Employment attorney, Tad DeLegal, joins us to talk more.

As for UF Health, it is offering virtual town hall meeting sessions this week and says its employees will be paid all the extra hours they worked when Kronos is back online.

RELATED: Some UF Health workers still waiting for pay following delays due to ransomware attack

Kronos has not released a specific time when this will be resolved and the hospital tells the I-TEAM it is not making any more comments about the ransomware attack.


About the Author:

Jennifer, who anchors The Morning Shows and is part of the I-TEAM, loves working in her hometown of Jacksonville.