Fort Lauderdale has a diverse economy, and wage theft disputes can pop up anywhere. One recently filed case highlights some common wage theft problems some employees face.
An employee at an air duct cleaning company in Fort Lauderdale is claiming lost wages, saying his employer refused to pay the time-and-a-half premium he’s legally owed, according to a Florida Record report.
Some of the biggest growth in Fort Lauderdale is being seen in hospitality and transportation. Fort Lauderdale is a famous tourist destination, but both warehousing and delivery is growing too. Here are four common workplaces, and some ways working there can wound your wallet.
Warehouses can have hundreds of employees. The hours can be long, the responsibilities numerous. Breaks could be few and far between, or in the worse cases, non-existent. If you get breaks, they must be 30 minutes or longer, or you’re supposed to get paid for them — although the federal Fair Labor Standards Act doesn’t require meal breaks, your employer is required to pay you for those 15-minute breaks you take.
Some warehouse machinery requires protection, and companies must pay for the time you suit up. Difficult or dangerous work often means training. You must be paid for the time you spend training, too, according to the FLSA.
The goods flowing through a warehouse can unexpectedly change. You might have to help prepare a large, urgent shipment for distribution, keeping you at work for a few extra hours and putting you over the 40-hour threshold, meaning you deserve to get paid more, even just for a few minutes. But warehouses aren’t the only place where expectations change, forcing you to stay on longer to help out.
Hotels have lots of workers, and their scheduling varies throughout the year. An unexpectedly heavy tourist weekend could mean your job needs you making up extra rooms, working the front desk for longer hours, or anything in between with little warning. Diligently recording your time could net you some well-deserved dollars if you think your hotel isn’t keeping the right track.
Overtime-exempt managers aren’t free from wage theft, either. They might have to take on responsibilities usually left to regular employees like acting as a concierge or going hands-on with a catering order. Your time spent working as a non-salaried employee could end up not being overtime-exempt for several reasons, according to the FLSA. Division of responsibility gets blurred elsewhere, too.
A restaurant job can come with a lot of latitude in job description, meaning you might end up filling in elsewhere. You could work more than you bargained for, having to staff the kitchen after your opening shift, or unexpectedly closing after a dinner shift. Adding just a few minutes to your shifts could send you into overtime territory without realizing it, costing you valuable money.
Tipping policy can also greatly affect the money you take home. You could be part of a tip pool that sees tips get distributed to other employees who don’t normally receive tips, which is illegal. If your employer uses a tip credit system, the tips plus wages must meet the minimum wage, too. If you work overtime, your employer cannot claim a larger tip credit on overtime hours. The hours have to be treated the same, the law says.
Even if your workplace isn’t a concrete location, wage theft can occur. Some Fort Lauderdale employees spend their days on the road, delivering people and products where they need to be. Driving means getting reimbursed for the miles you drive, plus gas, tolls, and parking. Many employers reimburse the annual standard mileage rate, but some do not.
You could be eligible for a tax break of the difference, and in any case, you’re required to make at least the minimum wage working. Your company is responsible for making sure you do.
A common problem in the transportation industry is misclassification. Companies like FedEx and others have been sued by drivers who say they’re bona fide employees and entitled to the protections of the FLSA and related state laws — and that their employers are trying to shirk their duties by classifying them as “independent contractors.”
However, if your company controls the hours you work, what you drive, and when you drive it, you might in fact be a real employee of that company and therefore eligible for labor protections like overtime under the FLSA.
Driving can mean long hours, and weird ones. Delivering anything from food to cargo can be hectic, and your company might need you to work overtime to deliver product day in, day out. Don’t lose out in the heat of the moment, and be sure to monitor your work time.
What If Wage Theft Has Happened to Me?
Wage theft is a serious issue, and navigating it might require help. Being misclassified, not making the minimum wage, or losing out on tips are all ways your money might slip through the cracks. You can prevent it, and reap the benefits.
If you think you’re ready now, let us know more about your case with our risk-free, no-cost evaluation form.