H&R Block Wins Overtime Lawsuit

H&R Block Wins Overtime Lawsuit

ST. LOUIS — The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Missouri federal judge’s ruling to dismiss a class action overtime lawsuit against H&R Block. The lawsuit alleged H&R Block refused to pay its tax professionals proper wages and overtime for time spent in post-tax season training. The judge granted summary judgment to H&R Block finding that the tax professionals were not employees when they were in training and were, therefore, not entitled to overtime pay.

The Overtime Claim

According to the H&R Block tax professionals’ claim, H&R Block required employees to take a training course after the tax season ended in order to be considered for employment with H&R Block for the following tax season. Since the training was a required condition of employment for the following season, the H&R Block employees claim that they should have received at least minimum wage for the 24 hours of training. H&R Block, on the other hand, claims that the tax professionals were hired seasonally, employment terminated at the end of tax season, and the training was only required if the tax professional wanted to be considered the following season.

Handbooks

Employee handbooks will usually address situations like training programs and overtime. While employee handbooks are rarely considered to be a binding contract, they can provide employees, employers, and the court with information and evidence of what employees and employers expect from the work relationship. In this case, H&R Block’s company handbook clearly stated that tax professionals were not employees between tax seasons. It also stated that the training did not guarantee the tax professional would be rehired, but was a prerequisite.

Overtime and Training

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides wage and overtime protections to the employees. If the tax professionals were not employees, then the FLSA would not apply to them. According to the court, because the training class took place after the tax season ended and employment ended with the tax season, the tax professionals were not employees. Therefore, the training is similar to any other training potential employees complete to meet prerequisites, like certifications or licenses.

The FLSA does require employers to pay employees for training, but there is an exception to this rule. Under the FLSA, employers are not required to pay for training if the training meets four criteria. The criteria are: the training is outside of normal hours; it is voluntary; it is not job related; and no other work is concurrently performed. Generally, employee trainings are either work related or mandatory and employees should be paid for their time spent in training.

If you believe you are owed overtime or your employer has failed to pay for your time in mandatory work training, contact our experienced overtime pay lawyers at (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review. Our knowledgeable team will evaluate your situation to determine if you can file a claim.

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