My employer enacted a down-sizing scheme last year, and I'm not sure if it's legal.
Previously, all full-time employees were scheduled for a 40-hr week and were paid overtime as usual under extraordinary circumstances, such as filling in for a sick employee or finishing a task that ran over the end of a shift.
In order to cut back by 4 employees, the employer has re-structured the work week so that every full-time employee works 48 hours per week for 4 weeks and then 72 hours per week for 2 weeks in a 6 week cycle. The problem is, the employer has cut everyone's hourly rate by about 25% to compensate for all the overtime pay, so each employee ostensibly earns about the same amount yearly.
This seems to me like an attempt to completely undermine the spirit of the overtime law without violating the letter of it. That is, one reason for the implementation of the 40-hr work week was to discourage employers from over-working employees and failing to hire more employees when needed to meet workloads.
The employees here are being fed a line about how they are actually making more money than they did the previous year, but they are being told they must work 400 extra hours per year. This is less time they get to spend with their families with no real compensation.
Since Missouri is a fire-at-will state and the employees have no collective bargaining capability, they are stuck with this situation.
Do employees in this situation have any recourse other than finding a new employer? Do they have standing to sue the employer? Or has the employer committed a crime? I have no idea how to find the answers to these questions myself, so I would appreciate any kind of guidance.