Overtime Shockwave: The $131K Wake-Up Call for Worker Classification

Introduction: The intricacies of employment classification can be a maze for employers, and a recent case involving a Hawaiian security firm serves as a stark reminder of the potential pitfalls. The question of whether overtime can be owed to independent contractors is at the heart of the matter. In this blog post, we'll unravel the details of the case and explore how having a robust payroll system with a time and attendance solution can be a game-changer in accurate classification and timekeeping.

The Costly Oversight: In a recent U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) investigation, a Hawaiian security firm found itself on the hook for a significant $131,000. The reason? The company had misclassified a substantial portion of its workforce – 110 security guards and patrol officers – as independent contractors. This misclassification led to a violation of overtime regulations, with these workers often exceeding the forty (40) hours per week threshold and consequently being owed back wages for unpaid overtime.

The Independent Contractor Overtime Quandary: The case underscores a crucial point: overtime can indeed be owed to workers classified as independent contractors when misclassification occurs. The implications are not just financial; they also carry potential legal repercussions and damage to an organization's reputation.

The Importance of Scrutiny in Classification: Employers must heed this cautionary tale and prioritize scrutinizing the classification of workers. The distinction between employees and independent contractors is not arbitrary and can significantly impact compliance with labor laws. A proactive approach to ensuring correct classification can save businesses from costly legal entanglements. 

The Role of Payroll Systems with Time and Attendance Solutions: To fortify their compliance efforts and navigate the complexities of worker classification, employers can turn to advanced payroll systems with integrated time and attendance solutions. These systems go beyond mere payroll processing; they enable accurate tracking of hours worked, ensuring that employees, whether classified as independent contractors or not, are appropriately compensated for their time.

Benefits of a Comprehensive Payroll System:

  • Accurate Classification: Payroll systems with time and attendance solutions allow accurate time tracking and aid in the accurate classification of workers.
  • Legal Compliance: Automated systems ensure adherence to labor laws, minimizing the risk of misclassification-related legal issues.
  • Efficient Record-Keeping: Detailed records provide a transparent overview of hours worked, facilitating compliance audits and mitigating potential disputes.
  • Cost Savings: By avoiding misclassification fines and legal fees, businesses can achieve substantial cost savings over time.


The Hawaiian security firm's $131,000 settlement serves as a powerful lesson for employers: misclassifying workers can have severe financial and legal consequences. To navigate the intricate terrain of employment classification, investing in a comprehensive payroll system with a time and attendance solution is not just a wise choice but a strategic imperative. By doing so, businesses can bolster compliance efforts, ensure accurate compensation, and create a workplace where both employees and employers thrive.

*** Check out our upcoming webinars to learn more:

  • Employee Classification & Navigating FLSA, March 14, 2024 @ 11am EST (SHRM credits available)
  • Labor & Time Management, March 28, 2024@11am EST 

To see the webinar descriptions and register for one or both, CLICK HERE!