That laissez-faire stuff is for losers.

When I wasn’t self-employed, I would’ve been a little more diligent in verifying my wages if I’d been non-exempt. After the first paycheck missing overtime pay, with insufficient resolution by the employer, I would’ve quit. But why be logical when lawsuits (free money!) could be had:

Large employers around the country, from retail giants Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Lowe’s Cos. to tech firms IBM and Electronic Arts Inc., are being hit with state and federal lawsuits alleging that they systematically failed to pay overtime to hundreds or even thousands of employees.

The suits stem from state and federal laws that require employers to pay time-and-a-half to workers who put in more than 40 hours a week. Salaried managers and independent contractors are exempt — unless their salaries fall below a certain threshold. Exempt categories are carefully defined to prevent employers from simply using the titles for workers to avoid paying overtime.

But the market won’t work without government intervention. Or will it? At my last employer, I received overtime pay despite being employed in an exempt position. My employer only paid me at my average hourly rate instead of time-and-a-half, so maybe the government should’ve saved me from my own stupidity of accepting more than the law required. It definitely should’ve saved my employer from paying more than the law required. What was the Department of Labor doing while I was being exploited?