Wage and Hour Disputes
In this evolving economy where everyone receives email on their phone and more and more careers require flexible schedules, the traditional 40-hour work week is vanishing rapidly. You work longer hours, spend more time in the office or at the jobsite, and miss key events with friends and family. If you worked the time, you should be paid for it.
Wage disputes, particularly disputes regarding overtime and minimum wage compensation are common claims in every industry, however the underlying statutes and rules to determine:
- whether an employee qualifies for overtime;
- the amount of overtime owed; and
- how the overtime is calculated are very complex.
Basic Wage Rights
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) employers must pay you at least the minimum wage and must often pay you 1.5 times your regular pay rate (“time and a half”) for each hour above forty hours you work during a particular work-week.
This sounds simple and direct–but it’s not. The FLSA has numerous carve-outs, exceptions and rules regarding how much overtime is owed, what constitutes a particular work-week and what the appropriate overtime pay rate for a particular job is. It is important to discuss your particular situation with an experienced attorney to determine the best course of action in your case and to determine what wages you are owed.
Does The FLSA Apply to My Employer?
Unless you work for a very small company with a limited business scope, it’s likely that the FLSA applies to your employer. The FLSA applies to all employers whose gross annual sales exceed $500,000 and who engage in interstate commerce. “Interstate commerce” sounds like it only applies to large companies, but courts construe the term broadly. Almost any transaction or sale is deemed to affect interstate commerce, so the vast majority of business are subject to the FLSA.
Am I Covered By the FLSA?
The FLSA applies to all employees earning an hourly wage and to salaried employees, unless you fall into one of the statute’s exempt categories.
The most common exempt categories are: executives, administrative employees, and professionals. Employees in each category must be paid at least $455 per week to qualify for the exemption.
- Executive: Executive employees are primarily responsible for managing a business, department or subdivision, directing the work of other employees and have authority over hiring, firing, promotion and other employment status changes.
- Administrative: Administrative employees are salaried, primarily perform office or non-manual work directly related to management and business operations and exercise independent judgment over significant business matters.
- Professionals: Professional employees perform work requiring advanced knowledge that is intellectual and requires regular exercise of discretion and judgment. Employees in this category are generally in a science or higher learning field requiring advanced education. Individuals working in creative fields or those requiring invention and innovation also qualify (but not always qualify) for this exemption.
The FLSA has numerous other exempt categories. An experienced attorney can help you determine whether or not you are an exempt employee.
Employees v. Independent Contractors
No wage issue is more contested than the independent contractor exception to the FLSA. If you are an independent contractor, the FLSA’s wage requirements do not apply to you. Whether you are an employee or an independent contractor varies based on the facts of each situation. The key component is whether or not the putative employer exercises significant control over the employee’s work.
If you believe your employer has withheld your wages or violated the FLSA, schedule a consultation with Harvey & Binnall’s attorneys to discuss your situation. Pending claims are time-sensitive and delaying legal action may prevent you from collecting your unpaid wages and losing other potential remedies under the statute.