The primary basis of working for an employer is to receive an income, among other benefits. Realizing that you have not been properly paid or have not been paid at all can be quite a shock, and it can lead you to wonder whether or not you have grounds to pursue a lawsuit against your current or former employer.
In these situations, working with a knowledgeable employment attorney is one of the best ways to protect your rights and to determine whether or not your employer has broken the law by failing to pay you the wages that you are owed. There are both state and federal protections for employees in place, and familiarizing yourself with these is extremely important.
If you move forward with a lawsuit, you must know your rights. You can expect that your former or current employer will push back on any claims made against them, especially if you allege that they broke the law. This is why you need a committed and experienced lawyer in your corner, who can help you with recovering compensation for the unpaid hours you worked.
Understanding Basic Components of the Fair Labor Standards Act
Overtime pay, record keeping, minimum wage, and youth employment standards are all governed under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under the act, the “hours worked” typically includes all-time in which an employee is required to be on duty at a prescribed workplace or on the employer’s premises. Covered nonexempt employees are also eligible to receive overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a given workweek, at a rate of no less than one and a half times the regular rate of pay.
Unfortunately, there have been many examples of lawsuits involving employees who were not paid, and it makes it very important for workers to understand the labor laws for not paying employees. Employers may or may not be aware of the labor laws for not paying employees, but it is their legal responsibility to adhere to these laws and to respond seriously when they are accused of violating them. Although it can be a nerve-racking experience to bring up alleged violations of labor laws for not paying employees, workers should also be prepared to protect their rights and to move forward with a lawsuit if necessary.
The Three Important Pay Violations
There are three primary types of pay violations. The first of these is withholding pay as punishment. If an employee violates company policy and leaves on bad terms, they're still eligible to receive their full paycheck. A company that withholds this pay could face serious administrative and legal issues.
Withholding and deducting pay without consent is another primary pay violation. Employers are not able to withhold a part of an employee's wages without their consent beyond the legally required withholdings, such as those for FICA taxes.
Another violation is paying below minimum wage. Shortages, uniforms, and tools of the trade cannot be deducted from employee wages if they bring the employee's wages below the minimum wage. Be aware that some businesses may need to comply with state minimum wage laws that are higher than the federal minimum wage.
Understanding Violations of Federal Laws
Administration of the Fair Labor Standards Act occurs through the US Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. There are several violations that employers can commit. For these violations, employees can move forward with legal action.
One violation is when an employer reduces payments to an exempted employee on salary. This might mean that the employee is no longer exempted through this action and that the employee must be paid minimum wage in addition to overtime. Failing to do so could lead to legal action. Even when companies are experiencing cash flow problems and are having difficulty meeting payroll, non-exempt hourly employees must be paid any overtime due plus their full wages on a regularly scheduled payday.
Employers who attempt to use these circumstances as reasons to avoid paying their employees can be in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. State laws can be stricter than federal laws, and businesses must comply with a law that gives a greater benefit to the employees, even if that is the state law.