What is the current minimum wage?
The federal guidelines for the $7.25 per hour minimum wage haven't been changed since 2009. Since then, many states and districts have implemented changes to increase the quality of life of low-wage workers and improve work ethic. However, just because some legislatures realize workers need a living wage doesn't mean employers won't try to use illegitimate loopholes and wage theft to pad their bottom line.
Whatever state you work in, you deserve to be paid fully for your hard work. Even if you get fired or resign, your employer is required by law to pay everything you are owed, including overtime, bonuses, and other agreed-upon benefits. Vacation pay and sometimes sick time or PTO may be due depending on company policies.
If you are the victim of wage theft or your employer is withholding any part of your pay, the labor and employment lawyers at Morgan and Morgan can help. Our law firm protects workers' rights and assists working people in wage disputes.
Who Is Eligible to Be Paid Minimum Wage?
Often, wage disputes arise because of the misclassification of an employee. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt employees have the right to minimum wage and overtime pay. A non-exempt employee is someone who generally does non-managerial manual labor, such as serving staff, construction workers, landscapers, hospitality staff, grocery store clerks, iron workers, paramedics, and manufacturing workers. Generally, these workers will not work in administrative or executive positions.
Even so, employers will try to classify a non-exempt employee as being exempt by giving them a fancy title, like "front-end manager," even though the worker’s duties require very few management tasks. Exempt employees who are not entitled to minimum wage usually include staff who work in finance, accounting, teaching, nursing, engineering, and computer programming, for a few examples.
Another tactic an employer may use to get out of paying employees a fair wage is to classify them as independent contractors instead of employees. However, a valid independent contractor must check off all items on this list:
- Runs their own business
- Paid upon completion of a project
- Provides their own tools, materials, and equipment
- Has more than one client
- The working relationship is terminated upon project completion
- Decides their own schedule and how work will be performed
- Determines the scope of work
On the other hand, a genuine employee generally will check off these items:
- Works for someone else's business
- Paid salary, hourly, or by piece rate
- Uses their employer's tools, materials, and equipment
- The worker usually has one employer
- The employer is in charge of how and when work will be executed
- The employer is in charge of assigning work
Even workers who are accurately classified as exempt can sometimes be eligible for minimum wage if their weekly wage falls below $684 per week. Furthermore, each state has minimum salary requirements to qualify for exemptions for minimum wage and overtime exemptions. Don't hesitate to contact Morgan and Morgan's labor and employment lawyers when in doubt. We have offices in every state in the nation with lawyers who are experts in local, state, and federal law.
When Can You Take Legal Action for Unpaid Wages?
Workplace disputes concerning unpaid wages happen all the time, which indicates there is a growing problem. Here are some unfair practices employers engage in that may warrant a civil action:
- Refusing to pay federally mandated overtime rates
- Withholding pay
- Failing to meet minimum wage requirements
- Misclassifying an employee's legal status
- Requiring workers to put in unpaid hours
- Requiring employees to "clock out" yet continue with work
- Withholding commissions or bonuses upon termination
Each state has its own department of labor division that administers and enforces state laws related to employee welfare, including the payment of wages. When you talk to one of our labor and employment lawyers, we'll look at the facts of your claim and advise you whether to go through the state or federal channels to win fair compensation.
The critical issue when it comes to litigating unpaid wages is if the employer acted in bad faith. Suppose the employer knew what they were doing and refused to rectify the situation. In that case, you may be eligible to receive triple damages and attorney's fees. Key evidence concerning bad faith could be as simple as the employer refusing to explain why they didn't pay what they owed you.
Talk to a Labor and Employment Lawyer Today
What the current minimum wage is depends on your state. At Morgan and Morgan, we realize that not every employer will treat its employees fairly by following state and federal laws. We understand that employers may make honest mistakes. Still, some deny lawful protections and wages simply because they continue to get away with it. That's not right. We believe that no employee should be denied the fruits of their labor because some business or corporation has never been held to account.
If you're being denied the wages and overtime you've earned through hard work, we're here to help. You should be aware that any retaliatory measures by your employer for exercising your protected rights to seek fair compensation are a violation of federal law and, most likely, state law. Violators may be subject to fines, back pay, job reinstatement, and other penalties.
Working with a qualified labor and employment lawyer elevates your chances of success, and it will cost you nothing if we don't succeed on your behalf. You owe it to yourself and your family to hold dishonest employers accountable. Contact us today for a free and confidential case evaluation.