wage & hour disputes
For several decades, our firm has represented public and private sector employees in individual or class actions stemming from “wage and hour” violations. State and federal wage and hour laws create the minimum wage and overtime standards applicable to covered (i.e., non-exempt) employees. Currently, these laws require that employers pay their employees at least $8.25 per hour for all regular hours worked (i.e., straight time). In addition, these rules mandate that employers are to pay their employees one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked on an overtime basis.
While these rules may seem incredibly simple, violations of state and federal law, whether intentional or unintentional, are incredibly common. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that as many as 70% of all employers are not in compliance with the requirements of federal law. Consequently, wage and hour litigation represents one of the fastest growing areas of employment law in our court system. Our firm dedicates more time to practicing in this area of the law than in any other area of individual employment rights litigation.
Oftentimes, employers incorrectly assume that they are free not to follow the wage and hour regulations governing their employees. In more extreme cases, employers simply ignore them. Under the law, however, it makes no difference whether the employer actually intended to disregard the law. Wage and hour laws consist of “no fault” rules designed to protect you from losing rightfully earned wages, even when employers act with the best of intentions.
Through a simple and informal audit of your employer’s pay practices, we can help you determine whether you are being paid every penny that you earn. We will consider the whole gamut of issues that can surface in the wage and hour context:
We will look at whether your employer calculated your overtime rate of pay correctly by factoring in all forms of remuneration that you receive throughout the year. In many cases, your overtime rate of pay involves more than simply multiplying your straight time hourly rate by 1.5. You may be receiving a bonus or some other form of compensation that should be included in the overtime calculation.
We will examine whether you are getting paid for all of the work that you perform each day. You and your coworkers may be volunteering time that should be treated as compensable work.
We will also look at whether your employer has improperly garnished, offset or withheld any portion of your wages. Employers are required to issue payment in a timely manner and cannot withhold any portion of your wages without your consent.
We will consider whether you have been misclassified as an exempt employee, or even an independent contractor, when your employer should have been treating you as a non-exempt employee. You are not exempt simply because your boss has called you “exempt,” labelled you an “independent contractor,” or has paid you a salary or a flat rate. The law determines your status as an exempt or non-exempt employee based on the work that you perform each day.
Although this list is not comprehensive, it reflects some of the more prevalent issues encountered in wage and hour litigation. Be assured, however, that whatever the issue may be, we can provide you with the assistance, support and representation that you will need to recover your lost wages.
The remedies for wage and hour violations are very favorable to covered employees. A prevailing party is entitled to recover damages in the amount of all unpaid wages. More often than not, that party is also entitled to recover “liquidated damages,” which is simply an additional sum of money equal to the amount of unpaid wages. Additionally, a prevailing plaintiff can recover reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. In light of these remedies, you should not assume that your case is too small for us to handle.