The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) protects workers from unfair wage practices by employers. Under the FLSA and similar state laws, many workers have the right to receive the minimum wage, payment for all time worked, and overtime pay calculated at 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Some common wage violations are discussed on this page. Remember that these violations are only examples of the many different wage violations that companies commit.
Many employees do not realize that they are entitled to overtime under federal law and many state laws. In fact, most workers in the United States should be getting paid overtime, including many who are paid on a salary basis. In addition to studying this website, feel free to contact one of the Firm’s employment law attorneys regarding your important wage rights.
Failing to credit and pay employees for all time spent working
It is a common violation of the FLSA to require workers to perform duties before or after clocking in.
Many employees are required to perform job duties that are uncompensated before their shift starts, during unpaid breaks, or after their shift starts. If you are required to perform job duties during time for which you are not compensated, you likely have a claim for unpaid wages against your employer.
Some common violations include: requiring employees to put on or take off mandatory protective gear before or after their shift, requiring employees to remain on-call without compensation and with restrictions on what they can do during this time, requiring employees to attend mandatory training without compensation.
Failing to pay for “unauthorized” overtime
If an employee’s manager refuses to authorize payment of overtime but knows the employee is having to work overtime anyway, that employee is likely entitled to overtime pay.
Misclassifying salaried employees as exempt managers, supervisors, administrators, or professionals
Just because you are a salaried employee or have a specific title that sounds like you are exempt does not mean you are not entitled to protection under the FLSA; many employees may be entitled to overtime depending on the job duties performed no matter what their title or compensation structure is.
Some common violations include: titling someone as a “manager” when they don’t have managerial tasks; calling an employee “exempt” from overtime when they are paid at an hourly rate and thus are entitled to overtime.
Making improper deductions from paychecks causing wages to fall below statutory requirements
We have helped employees recover wages owed after improper deductions were made from their paychecks by the employer, which frequently can cause wages to fall below the minimum wage.
One common violation includes improper tip pooling. Under Arizona law, a tipped employee must be paid an minimum hourly rate of $3.00 less than the applicable minimum wage. As of September 2017, the minimum wage in Arizona is $10.00 per hour, so tipped employees must receive an hourly rate of $7.00 per hour. Tips must then make up the difference to ensure the tipped employee is earning at least $10.00 for every hour worked. It is also illegal to include employees in a tip pool that are not typically the type who work in the front of the restaurant, so cooks and managers, for example, should not be able to draw from the tips that a tipped employee earns. The minimum wage in Arizona is also set for yearly increases, so your employer should be mindful of that requirement as well.
Improperly classifying employees as independent contractors
Whether a worker is truly an independent contractor depends on the specific circumstances of the employment, not the title they are given. The question is really whether the worker is dependent on the company they work for to earn a living and whether the worker’s day to day duties are controlled by the business. If you believe your employer treats you like an employee and requires you to follow a lot of rules, it’s possible that you are not a true independent contractor and should be getting paid at least the minimum wage for every hour worked and 1.5 times your regular rate of pay for every hour worked over 40 in a workweek.
Failing to include commissions, shift differential pay, and other monetary payments like bonuses in the overtime rate
Many workers are paid commissions, shift differentials, and bonuses as part of their compensation. In many circumstances, this type of incentive pay must be calculated into the overtime rate that an employee earns for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. For example, if an an employee earns $10.00 per hour as his or her regular rate, plus a non-discretionary bonus of $5.00 for every widget sold, then the bonuses earned must be calculated into the employee’s overtime rate. It would likely be illegal for the employer to pay 1.5 times the hourly rate of $10.00 per hour without factoring in the bonuses earned.