A Simplified Explanation of Our Legal System
Our country is divided into several court systems. Our federal system is divided into District Courts, 12 Appellate courts, and the Supreme Court. Each state has a superior court, and as you move further down the line, you have city, village, and county courts in some parts of America. I deal with cases brought into federal courts and sometimes state courts. All that I know about the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is based on decisions made by judges in the federal court system.
I live and work in Florida where there are three District Courts. The decisions made in each District Court’s area (the area is based on the counties in each jurisdiction), are the law in that district. When people do not agree with a decision or someone thinks a decision conflicts with a decision in a different District Court, then an appeal can be made to the Appellate Court for the District Courts involved. If parties are still not satisfied with a decision, they may appeal to the Supreme Court. But the process is much more complicated than it seems. This is why having access to experienced attorneys, who understand the intimate and detailed nature of this system, is so important.
In the work I do as a labor consultant, people with work-related problems frequently decide to resolve their problem in State courts. This usually involves a small claims court. Depending on the state the court is in, they may have a different name for the court. The point is to find a local authority, which can cheaply and quickly hear your case and make a decision. In this way, your problem can be resolved in a civilized manner.
Unfortunately, the entire issue of employee wage payments is fundamentally based on the knowledge that the employer has money with which to pay a judgment. A judgment is a ruling, a decision, made in a case brought to the attention of a court. The judgment means something. It means that a judge thought you were correct, and ordered the employer to pay you. But the truth is, the judge is not a magician and cannot make money appear. If the employer has no money then there is nothing else you can do.
True in any aspect of life, it is always wise to limit your losses. Try to be very aware of how far into your money any employer gets. The more desperate the employer’s pleas are, the less likely you are to come out a winner. The stranger their stories, excuses, or the weirder their problems are, the worse it will be for you. Protect yourself.
Now you know. If information is power what will you do with your power?