Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, most workers in the U.S. are entitled to receive the federal minimum wage, which is currently set at $7.25 per hour. They are also entitled to receive overtime pay of time and one-half for each hour that is worked during a workweek beyond 40 hours. The law defines work and how employers must calculate an employee’s working hours. When an employer violates the FLSA, the affected employees may be able to file wage and hour lawsuits. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler are able to help workers whose employers have committed wage and hour violations so that they can recover compensation for the wages that they should have been paid.
Common wage and hour violations
Each year, approximately $250 million is recovered by the Department of Labor for workers’ back wages. This amount includes both violations of the minimum wage as well as violations of the overtime laws. While violations of the minimum wage result in losses to employees every year, employers may steal substantially more from their employees by violating the overtime provisions. In addition to these two broad categories, there are other wage and hour violations that employers commonly commit. Here are six violations that are among the most common types.
Miscalculating overtime pay
Many workers who are entitled to receive overtime either do not receive it or are paid it at a rate that is less than what they should receive. Under the FLSA, statutory employees who work more than 40 hours during a workweek must be paid at a rate of one-and-one-half times their regular hourly rate, including commissions and bonuses that they earn.
Not paying for work that is performed off of the clock
Another common violation occurs when employers fail to pay their workers for work that they perform off of the clock. If you are allowed to work off of the clock, your employer should count your extra hours toward both your overtime pay and your hourly wages.
Deducting amounts from checks illegally
Some employers also take illegal deductions from the paychecks of their employees. Employers are not allowed to deduct the cost of supplies, tools, and uniforms if the deductions cause their employees’ wages to fall below the minimum wage. If you only make minimum wage, your employer is not allowed to take any deductions from your paycheck. However, if you are a tipped employee, your employer can pay you less than the minimum wage as long as your tips bring you up to at least the minimum wage.
Failing to pay the tipped minimum wage
Employers must pay a minimum wage of $2.13 per hour to tipped employees. However, your tips must be enough to bring you up to at least $7.25 per hour when they are combined with your tipped minimum wage under federal law. Under state law, your tips must bring you up to at least $8.85 per hour.
Not paying at least the minimum wage
Some workers are not paid the minimum wage for their work. Under federal law, you are entitled to receive a minimum of $7.25 per hour. However, state law in New Jersey mandates that you must be paid at least $8.85 per hour. Since the state’s minimum is higher, it is what employers in New Jersey must pay their workers at a minimum.
Taking tips from tipped employees
Some employers of tipped employees steal their tips. In most cases, you are entitled to keep the tips that you earn. However, there is one exception under the FLSA called tip pooling. Tip pooling involves employees chipping in a certain percentage of their tips. The pool of tips is then equally divided between them. If you work for a business in which your employer takes a tip credit that reduces your hourly wages to an amount that falls below the minimum, you will only have to contribute tips that exceed the tip credit. Workers who are allowed to benefit from a tip pool include those who regularly receive tips. Employers are not allowed to draw money from the tip pool.
Industries with the most wage and hour violations
While wage and hour violations occur across industries, four are responsible for the most violations. The following industries are responsible for more wage and hour violations than others:
- Textile and apparel manufacturing
- Personal services
- Domestic workers
- Restaurants, supermarkets, and warehouses
What happens when state wage and hour laws differ from the federal law?
State laws that are more generous to workers take precedence over the federal wage and hour laws. As previously mentioned, New Jersey’s minimum wage is $8.85 per hour as compared to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. This means that employers in New Jersey must pay their statutory workers at least $8.85 per hour instead of $7.25 per hour. This means that an employer who follows federal law but violates state law can still be held liable.
Get help from Swartz Swidler
If you think that your employer has not paid you what you are owed, you should talk to an attorney at Swartz Swidler. We can review your situation and tell you whether it appears that your employer has violated the wage and hour laws. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by filling out our online contact form.