Kronos Cyberattack: Does a Cyberattack Excuse My Employer from Paying Me on Payday?
Federal Law Requires Payment of Wages and Overtime
In general, employees must be paid on or before each scheduled payday for the work that they have done. Federal and state law requires employers to strictly comply with all wage and overtime payment laws. An employer’s failure to pay wages and overtime on each scheduled payday will result in the employer being liable to the employee for violations of federal and state labor laws.
For example, under federal law, failure to pay overtime can subject an employer to double damages. That is, federal law provides damages for unpaid wages and overtime at twice the amount owed as statutory “liquidated damages.” This is true under most state labor laws, too. Under most state laws, however, the penalty is three times the amount of unpaid wages and overtime wages. Moreover, under many state laws, there are specific legal rules concerning WHEN payment is due. Often, payment of wages and compensation must be made weekly (but the timing can vary depending on the type of work and other factors).
Wages Must be Paid by Regular Payday
So, what happens if the employer suffers a cybercrime attack that shuts down their payroll processing computers and programs? The short answer is: nothing changes with respect to an employer’s legal obligations. An employer must still pay wages, overtime and other compensation when due. An employer is NOT relieved of its legal obligations because of a ransomware or other cyberattack. Employees are not required to bear the burden of mistakes made by their employers.
This recently happened to many businesses using a time tracking and payroll system called “Kronos.” For example, as reported here, an employer called UF Health Jacksonville suffered a ransomware attack directed at its Kronos payroll system on December 11, 2021. The cyberattack prevented UF Health from accessing employee time records and processing payroll checks. The attack also impacted other employers like Baptist Health, Southeast Georgia Health System and PepsiCo.
According to another media report, UF Health modified procedures so that employees received pay on their normally scheduled payday.
But, several weeks later, some employees have complained that they still have not been paid for overtime and vacation pay. This is because UF Health began paying employees the same base pay that was paid for the last pay period before the cyberattack. UF Health claims that overtime and vacation pay will be paid when it is able to resolve the cyberattack and regain access to its Kronos systems and records.
Workers Not Paid on Payday are Entitled to Double Damages
However, that is not what the law requires. Federal Labor laws require that employees be paid their wages, including all overtime wages, when due. There may be some good faith exceptions for natural disasters and the like. But a ransomware attack is not analogous to a natural disaster over which employers have no control. These employers have full and complete control over their computer systems and have the obligation to have state-of-the-art cybersecurity procedures and protocols.
As said above, employees are not required to bear the burden of mistakes made by their employers. If one payroll system goes down, then employers have a legal obligation to revert to an older functioning system or create a new one. These employees can and should seek the legal advice and counsel of experienced employee rights attorneys and make wage claims to vindicate their rights as employees.
Call the Employee Rights Attorneys at Herrmann Law Today
For more information, call the Employee Rights attorneys at Herrmann Law. If you think that your employer has violated your rights as an employee, call us. We are proven, experienced, employee-focused attorneys representing workers across the United States in all types of workplace disputes. Use our Online Contact page or call us at (817) 479-9229. We are more than just a law firm for employees – we are an employee’s fiercest advocate, equipping employees with the legal representation needed to achieve the best result possible.