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Labor & Employment Lawyers in Owensboro, KY
Owensboro, Kentucky, is home to thousands of employers and their employees. Owensboro has seen a job market increase of 1.5% over the previous year, and future projections suggest that over the next ten years, the city will see a 37.1% increase, indicating a booming future economy. Some of the biggest industries that employ Owensboro citizens are manufacturing, retail trade, accommodations and food service, health care and social assistance, and educational services.
Morgan and Morgan's labor & employment lawyers in Owensboro, KY, have an in-depth understanding of the issues Owensboro workers may face with their employers. Problems like overtime pay, sexual harassment, workplace discrimination, wrongful termination, whistleblowing, and non-compete agreements can significantly impact workers. We understand these issues and are experts in Kentucky and federal labor and employment laws. When you find yourself being taken advantage of or abused by an employer, we're here to help.
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What Are Some Typical Overtime Pay Issues?
Denial of valid overtime pay is known as wage theft, and it's a huge problem. Some employees may not even realize they are entitled to overtime pay and lose out on earned wages. Some industries are prone to this kind of wage theft. It's most common in health care, technical support, delivery driver jobs, call centers, the food industry, and financial services. However, it can occur in any type of job.
If you've been the victim of wage theft because an employer refuses to pay for the hard hours you've put in, then our overtime attorneys can help. Kentucky recognizes two provisions concerning overtime law. You may have heard of the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA), which states that workers must be paid 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. However, Kentucky does not require employers to pay overtime if a worker works more than eight hours in a day or weekends and on holidays. Still, if an employee works seven days in a single workweek, they should be paid 1.5 times their regular pay rate for the seventh day with some specific exemptions.
Overtime laws don't apply to exempt employees, which is often a point of confusion for both employees and employers. Exempt employees in Kentucky work in sales or retail stores, restaurants, hotels, and motels employees, or work mainly in administration. Salaried professionals are also exempt. However, an employer may not call an employee a salaried professional just to avoid paying overtime. The salaried professional needs to have specialized knowledge and skill. In-home residential caretakers are likewise exempt.
Basically, whether you qualify for overtime pay depends on federal and state law, your specific job duties, and how many hours you work in a workweek. Our labor & employment lawyers can help clarify if you're owed overtime pay, give advice on the next steps to take, and assist you in legal action if necessary.
Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable in the workplace by being sexually harassed. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has two categories of sexual harassment. One is labeled a hostile work environment, and the other is quid pro quo. A hostile work environment regarding sexual harassment happens when you experience unwanted physical, verbal, or emotional conduct that is unavoidable and impacts your ability to do your job. Quid pro quo is when you receive this for that. An example is if an employer asks for sex in exchange for a promotion.
Here are other common examples of workplace sexual harassment against the laws of Kentucky:
- Comments about clothing or your body
- Sexual intimidation
- Jokes about sex
- Inappropriate touching
- Request for sexual favors
- Any unwelcome visual, written, verbal, or physical sexual behavior
- Sexually explicit images on display
- Sexual slurs
While you're not required to hire an attorney over sexual harassment in the workplace, our lawyers can provide you with the legal counsel you will need to make a compelling case. Sexual harassment lawsuits can be challenging to prove and are often lengthy. However, if you have strong evidence and witnesses, it can be much easier. We understand that sexual harassment makes it difficult to do your job and can have emotional consequences. No one should have to work in an environment like that. We can help.
Our country has laws that prohibit workplace discrimination. Sadly though, it's still a common occurrence. Although Kentucky generally realizes that most employment is "at-will," there are some circumstances that would put employers afoul of Federal and state discrimination laws. For example, if an employer has specific policies concerning termination, they must follow them. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and veteran status.
Unfortunately, Kentucky does not have provisions for discrimination against the LGBTQ population, and a 2020 non-discrimination measure failed to pass in Daviess County. For a successful discrimination case, it's vital to have evidence that you were discriminated against based on your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or veteran status.
We understand that workplace discrimination is a sensitive and serious issue. While employers are not forced to hire or keep on people that cannot or will not fulfill the job duties, proving discrimination is the burden of the employee or prospective employee. Our labor & employment lawyers in Owensboro, KY, will work with you to establish if you have evidence of discrimination or unlawful treatment.
Generally, being employed at a business is thought to be a pretty straightforward arrangement. You work for an agreed-upon amount of pay for doing agreed-upon tasks. However, in some situations, an employee may find themselves wrongfully terminated.
Although Kentucky is an "at-will" state, there are still laws that every employer must adhere to so they avoid wrongful termination lawsuits. Those laws prohibit employers from firing workers based upon race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or veteran status. Furthermore, suppose the employee has a written contract, and the grounds for termination violate the contract. In that case, there may be grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Kentucky employers are also prohibited from firing employees because they exercise legal rights such as participating in an investigation into discriminatory practices. Employment-related claims are exceedingly complex and technical. However, if a terminated employee feels they were mistreated, they should reach out to Morgan and Morgan for justice.
When a business engages in practices that are unlawful or dangerous to the surrounding community or endangers people who purchase their products or use their services, sometimes an employee will make a stand and alert the appropriate officials. This person is called a whistleblower. Because doing the right thing helps society, there are laws against retaliating against an employee reporting illegal, dangerous, or unethical practices.
In Kentucky, public employees have the protection of the Kentucky Whistleblower's Act. Public employees can report waste, fraud, abuse of authority, mismanagement, violations of departmental rules and regulations, as well as violations of the law without fear of retaliation. Suppose you feel like you've been retaliated against because you blew the whistle for any of the above. In that case, our labor and employment lawyers can help. Private employees have some protections that come from the False Claims Act, which is also related to defrauding the government.
Although Kentucky follows the "at-will" doctrine, private sector employees have some security for whistleblowing through common law and statutory protections. For example, under common law, it's illegal for an employer to force an employee to commit perjury. If the employee refuses and is retaliated against, the employer could be sued for retaliatory actions.
Kentucky statutory protections safeguard private-sector employees from retaliation for engaging in protected activities such as opposing unlawfully discriminatory practices, filing complaints, or testifying in proceedings concerning unlawful violations. To file a whistleblower retaliation claim in Owensboro, KY, an employee has five years from the date of the retaliatory action.
Many employers require employees to sign a non-compete agreement which is a contract that states you won't enter into "competition" against the employer while working for them and often for a period of time after leaving. Non-competes frequently have an additional element to protect an employer's trade secrets and other confidential information.
Non-compete agreements are considered valid and enforceable under Kentucky law. Still, a non-compete agreement should not place an unreasonable burden on the employee. For instance, to be valid, a non-compete agreement cannot be for an unlimited amount of time or prohibit the former employee from working the same position in an unlimited territory.
Furthermore, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that an employer may not require an existing employee to sign a non-compete without providing some additional value to the employee. Continued employment is not considered an added value. It has to be something above and beyond. If an employer's non-compete agreement is seen as having unreasonable requirements or doesn't add additional value for an existing employee, the non-compete may be unenforceable.
Suppose you are having issues in regards to a non-compete agreement you signed. In that case, our labor & employment lawyers in Owensboro, KY, can review the contract to see if it's enforceable.
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects eligible employees from being terminated for taking time off from work for qualifying life events. The FMLA only applies to employers with 50 or more employees. It grants that eligible workers may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and return to their position or an equivalent position with the same pay, responsibilities, and benefits.
To be eligible, the employee must work at a job site within 75 miles of their employer, work a minimum of 12 months for their employer, and work at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before the date the leave starts.
Qualifying life events are medical issues the employee is dealing with or the medical issues of a close relative that require the employee to care for them. The medical issue does not have to be connected to the job. Additional qualifying life events are the birth and care of a new child or the adoption or foster care of a new child.
Suppose you've been terminated because of your own medical leave or that of a close relative. In that case, you may be eligible to be reinstated to your position under the FMLA. Morgan and Morgan's attorneys are here to assist.
Contact Our Dedicated Labor & Employment Lawyers
When you have questions about labor and employment laws, our dedicated team is ready with answers and can fight for your rights. While many employers treat their workers right, some just don't play fair. We're here to right the wrongs. In fact, Morgan and Morgan Law Firm handles more labor and employment claims than any other law firm in the U.S. Going up against your employer can be intimidating, we know. However, with the right kind of legal counsel, you can prevail, recover the compensation you're owed, and get the justice you seek. Contact us today for a free and confidential case evaluation.