A Short Tour of 2016's Biggest Wage Theft Complaints in Fort Myers

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Every industry in Fort Myers is susceptible to wage theft, but in 2016 hospitality and restaurant complaints reigned supreme. Given the city’s reputation for tourism, this comes as no surprise.

Here are some of the biggest ways wage theft was perpetrated in the city this year, who’s allegedly been doing it, and how you can keep it from happening to you.

Overtime Was at the Heart of Many Allegations

Complaints about not receiving time-and-a-half overtime pay for every hour over 40 worked in a week is a common wage theft allegation that is made in many industries. Employees in Fort Myers were no exception, and some who worked at retail stores, maintenance and construction companies, hospitality businesses, and restaurants made overtime complaints in 2016.

Fort Myers businesses that allegedly withheld overtime pay included Edible Arrangements, Everglades Day Safari, House of Wu, Caloosahatchee Jack’s, and more, according to the Florida Record.

If you work more than 40 hours a week, and earn less than $23,660 a year or $455 per week, you are likely owed time-and-a-half pay for your overtime hours, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Make sure your company is keeping track of your time, or even better, track it yourself to guarantee you aren’t being skimped.

Some Concerns Lingered or Even Escalated

Overtime wasn’t the only concern. Some employees alleged not making minimum wage when working. One Jimmy John’s employee claimed she routinely did untipped work at the tipped rate, according to the Florida Record. The tipped minimum wage in Florida is currently $5.03 per hour, and the untipped rate is $8.05, meaning she might have missed out on a significant chunk of cash.

Some employees allege they were retaliated against after pointing out their pay issues, such as the case above where the employer fired her after she complained about not receiving the minimum wage, according to the Florida Record. Retaliation is illegal and often comes after employees seek their fair wages or benefits under the FLSA.

Another major form of wage theft regards break time. In one significant case, aircraft fuelers working for Swissport Fueling claimed the company illegally deducted break hours each week that fuelers never took, according to the Florida Record.

If you take bona fide lunch breaks — usually 30 minutes or more — you are not allowed to perform any work during your break. If you are required to work during your break, or worse, get that time deducted without actually having taken it, you are experiencing another form of wage theft.

Tip Pooling Was Another Wage Complaint

Sometimes wage disputes covered more than just overtime or hours worked but also breaking up tips among employees. One of the biggest alleged offenders was C Level Bistro & Wine Bar per the Florida Record, which does business south of Fort Myers in Bonita Springs. But tip pooling happens in several workplaces, particularly restaurants, bars, and hospitality.

Tips are the property of the employee, according to the FLSA. An employee must retain all tips unless participating in a valid tip pool with other food servers, busboys, bellhops, or regularly tipped individuals. Other than a tip pool, an employee can only use tips as a credit towards the minimum wage.

Tips also can’t be divvied up with regularly non-tipped employees. This includes cooks, chefs, janitors, and dishwashers.

These are just some of the ways Fort Myers employers allegedly withheld wages from their workers. If any of them sound familiar, you could also be the victim of wage theft.

What Can I Do If I Suspect My Wages Were Stolen?

Wage theft is a massive issue plaguing workers, particularly non-exempt employees, but many more can fall victim to it. Worse still, some employers might retaliate and terminate you for speaking out about wage theft, which is illegal under the FLSA.

Our attorneys at Morgan & Morgan are knowledgeable at examining the intricacies of wage and hour disputes, like companies not adhering to the FLSA and its wage, tipping, and overtime regulations. They can examine your case and determine if you’ve been a victim.

Fill out a free, no-risk case review form today to learn more about how attorneys may be able to help.

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