Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.
Are you talking about suing the employer for the brain injury at work? Did your husband get his bills paid and time off covered by worker's compensation? How long has it been since that happened?
Or were you only wondering if you can sue based on the excessive hours your husband is working? Does your husband supervise others or make hiring/firing decisions?
That's awful. I'm very sorry that the employer is doing this. The entire situation must be very stressful for you.
There is unfortunately no state or federal law that regulates the number of hours a person can be required to work. Your husband's recourse is to refuse to do the hours and quit if he's being made to work too many hours. He cannot sue them for agreeing to work more hours he should reasonably be required to work.
What he could do is get a doctor to examine him and give an opinion on how his brain injury limits him and whether working extra hours exacerbates the injury. That might allow him to request a set work schedule, with a reasonable number of hours, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. His employer wouldn't be allowed to fire him for asking for help to deal with a disability. He could also request intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act if he needs days off to deal with his brain injury, which is a serious medical condition. He'd be allowed to take up to 12 unpaid weeks a year, if he submitted the proper paperwork. That might be worth pursuing if your husband's employer has more than 50 employees.
There is one other law that might help, but it depends on what your husband's responsibilities for the company are. What are his duties? Does he supervise other employees?
You're right. It's not right. But if your husband is agreeing to work the hours, that makes it very hard to sue the company.
What are his duties? Does he supervise other employees? The reason I keep asking is that this is the key to whether or not it's illegal for him employer to not pay him overtime. It's not just based on the fact that he's paid a salary.
And if it's illegal not to pay him overtime, he would have a lawsuit for potentially a lot of money, which would probably inspire his employer to stop making him work so many hours.
Thank you. If he's supervising them and has some input into hiring and firing decisions, then it sounds like it unfortunately is allowed for them to make him work all these hours.
The legislature decided, hundreds of years ago, that the solution to this type of problem was to give employees the freedom to leave a bad situation. That's why they drafted at-will employment laws. I'm sorry to say, those are the only laws that are going to help your husband here. He has a right to quit his job and go work for an employer that is not going to take advantage of him. I know that's scary and i know it's hard to look for a new job while working 100+ hours a week at his existing job, but they're going to work him to death if he lets them and there aren't other laws that apply.
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The key is whether the person has genuine input into hiring and firing decisions. If he's giving opinions and they listen to him, that's enough.
If the employer is violating state or federal safety regulations, report them to the labor board. He should be able to do that anonymously.
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