Unemployment rates across the country have been wavering around record highs. In the past few months, the national unemployment rate has stayed above 8 percent. Shockingly, along with these high unemployment rates, those who are lucky enough to have a job are suffering record numbers of wage and hour violations.

During this year, the number of people filing a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act reached higher numbers than it had in the past 20 years. In the year 2000, there were 1,854 wage-and-hour claims cases, the numbers have been increasing. As of March 31, there were 7,064 new cases filed in the preceding 12 months.

So what has contributed to this increase in claims? Are employees being taken advantage of in the employer-friendly market? When jobs are hard to find, more people worry about retaining the one that they have. Analysts theorize that those who do have a job are compelled to work longer hours and through lunch without complaining about overtime pay or standing up for their rights because they fear losing their job.

Another thing that may contribute to the increased number of claims is the apparent ambiguity in the Fair Labor Standards Act itself. Exempt and non-exempt workers are defined under the law, but it is not always perfectly clear when applied to real work scenarios. This can make these cases more complex.

For example, computer programmers are exempt from overtime requirement, and some employers have taken this to mean that someone using a computer doesn't need to be paid overtime wages -- which is simply not true.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "Worker Wage-and-Hour Suits Rise in Difficult Labor Market," Emily Grannis, Aug. 15, 2012

If you are someone who wants to learn more about the Fair Labor Standards Act and what claim you may have, our website provides a wealth of information.