Cases We Handle
There are a number of ways in which your employer may shortchange your wages in violation of federal or state law. For example, your employer may claim that you can’t receive overtime pay unless you have permission to work extra hours or refuse to pay you for time spent doing certain work-related activities (i.e. putting on safety equipment, checking e-mails from home, going to before- and after-hours meetings).
Below are examples of cases our attorneys handle and common violations we see in our practice.
Misclassified as exempt:
Some employees are considered “ exempt
” from overtime pay and other federal pay provisions. This means they are not entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week. Unfortunately, employees can sometimes be wrongly classified as “exempt” either because their employer doesn’t understand the law or is trying to avoid paying overtime. For instance, an employer may promote a cashier to “assistant manager” without changing the worker’s job duties
to claim that he or she is an “exempt” manager and therefore not entitled to overtime wages.
Misclassified as an independent contractor:
Independent contractors typically work on a contract basis for other businesses. They are considered self-employed and do not receive overtime pay. Our attorneys handle lawsuits against employers who have either intentionally or unintentionally misclassified their workers as independent contractors despite the fact that they meet the definition
of an employee and should receive overtime pay.
Employer fails to pay minimum wage:
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but some states have passed legislation enforcing a higher minimum wage. Despite federal and state laws, some employees are cheated out of minimum wage
. Day-rate workers and tipped employees are particularly susceptible to minimum wage violations because of how they are paid.
Employer fails to pay for all hours worked: Time spent working for the benefit of your employer – regardless of whether you’re on the employer’s premises – is considered compensable time and should be paid. Examples of compensable time include time spent:
- Checking emails from home
- Turning on computers
- Cleaning equipment
- Putting on equipment
- Undergoing security checks
- Working through meal breaks
- Attending training or safety classes
- Taking short breaks that last between 5 and 20 minutes
If your employer isn’t properly tracking your work time, it’s possible you’re getting cheated out of overtime pay because your employer is not properly calculating how much time you worked per week.
Employer pools tips with non-tipped employees: Tip pooling
occurs when tipped employees (e.g., waiters, busboys, bartenders, etc.) put their tips in a general “pool” that is later equally divided among tipped workers only. While these tips belong solely to tipped workers, non-tipped employees (e.g., the business owner, managers, cooks, etc.) may wrongly collect a portion of these tips. As a result, the tipped workers’ hourly pay may fall below the required minimum wage.
Employer doesn't pay overtime each week: Some employers average workers’ hours over the course of two weeks, which is illegal and can cheat workers out of overtime pay. For example, an employee who works 30 hours one week and 50 hours the next has his hours averaged and his paycheck shows that he worked 40 hours each week. As a result, he never receives overtime pay for the 10 hours he worked in the second week.
Comp time instead of overtime pay:
Instead of giving their workers overtime pay, some companies may give their workers “comp time” or hours that can be used toward a vacation or sick time. Only state and local government employees
, however, can legally receive “comp time” in lieu of overtime pay.
The employer pays “half-time.”
Half pay, also known as a "Chinese overtime"
or the “fluctuating workweek”
, is when workers receive overtime pay at a rate one-half times their typical hourly rate. There are, however, strict criteria the employee must meet to be eligible for “half-time.”
These criteria include that the employee’s hours fluctuate between weeks, the employee receives a set salary that does not change with the number of hours he or she works, and that the worker and employer have a “clear mutual understanding” that the worker will receive the same amount each week regardless of hours worked. Some employees receive Chinese overtime
without meeting these criteria, resulting in underpaid overtime and minimum wage violations.