- Generally - Anderson Alexander is committed to helping employees around the country who have been victims of wage theft. Wage theft occurs every day, businesses all around the country from Buffalo Wild Wings and Conoco Phillips to Shaun’s Towing and Recovery, employers big and small have and continue to raise their profits by cheating employees out of their wages. These violations can be difficult to detect and many employers will purposely mislead their employees about the employees’ rights. If you think your employer has paid you incorrectly it is important to know your rights and to document each incident. It is important for you to collect any hard evidence you can obtain such as emails, memos, timecards, pay stubs, and text messages.
- Your rights - The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is the main governing body of law for employee rights regarding wages and working hours. The FLSA mandates that almost all employees must be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked (minimum wage is $7.25 as of July 24, 2009). The FLSA also mandates that all employees, whether they are paid a salary or paid by the hour, must be paid overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week. The only exception to the overtime rule is if the employee qualifies for one of the FLSA’s overtime exemptions. Our attorneys are highly knowledgeable on all aspects of the FLSA and can answer any of your legal questions and determine if you have a claim for unpaid wages. To learn more about the FLSA click here to go to our FLSA Guide.
- Time Limit - The Statute of Limitations (SOL) is the maximum amount of time after legal claim arises that a person may make that claim. After the SOL has passed a person may no longer pursue that claim in court and the legal liability of the defendant is extinguished. Essentially, the SOL is the time limit to submit a claim for wage theft. For the FLSA the SOL is three years, though certain states have laws that extend the SOL beyond the three years. If you believe you have a claim for wage theft it is imperative that you contact our attorneys immediately before your claim expires.
- Types of violations
Uncompensated work time - these types of violations occur when an employer asks you to work off the clock, when an employer removes an employee’s recorded working hours from the record keeping system, or when an employer simply does not pay an employee for time they spent working. Employers often do this to avoid paying an employee overtime pay. Employers will also frequently inform employees that they cannot be compensated for time spent performing certain work functions such as answering phone calls away from work, answering emails at home, cleaning equipment, cleaning their office, attending mandatory meetings, taking short breaks that last less than 20 minutes, turning their computers on and setting up required work programs before their shift begins, and working through their lunch breaks. These are just some examples of the misinformation employers spread. If you have been told you cannot be compensated for either the above listed work duties or other work-related functions then you may be owed wages from your current or former employer.
Tip Wage Violations - under the FLSA “tip-credit” provision employers are allowed to pay servers and other employees who commonly receive tips $2.13 an hour so long as that employee still makes at least the minimum wage when their hourly wage is combined with their tips. Many states have even higher requirements for their tip-credit laws. Common violations to look for when you are receiving a tip wage are: Your tips are pooled and distributed to other employees who do not receive tips normally, like a manager. You are paid $2.13 an hour when not performing a tip related duty, such as opening a restaurant when there are no customers to serve or receive tips from or you are washing dishes in the back where you cannot receive tips. You spend more than 20% of your time cleaning and performing other duties that do not generate tips. If any of these situations sound familiar you may be owed wages by your employer, contact our attorneys and we can help determine if you have a strong claim for unpaid wages.
Pay Deductions – These are another common type of violation will see. If an employer take money out of your check for a uniform, dropped customer orders, customers who did not pay, or for any other reason you may have a claim. These types of deductions are often very fact specific, if your employer has been making deductions from your wages call our office now so we can determine if these were improper deductions for which you must be compensated for.
- Employee Misclassification –Misclassifications occur when an employee is mislabeled as an independent contractor who is not entitled to overtime compensation. These types of claims are especially prevalent in the energy industry, IT industry, and the retail industry. Just because you are labeled an independent contractoror an exempt-employee does not mean you are not entitled to overtime. To learn more about Independent Contractors click here to see our FLSA Guide
- Overtime Pay – The FLSA mandates that all employees whether they are paid a salary or are paid by the hour are owed overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Only employees who fit into the narrow exemptions may not be paid overtime. If you work more than 40 hours a week and do not fit into one of the narrow exemptions you must be paid time-and-a-half, that is 150% of your regular rate of pay. To learn more about the exemption to overtime click here to see our FLSA Guide.
- What is Retaliation? – Retaliation occurs when an employer punishes an employee for engaging in a legally protected activity. This punishment does not have to be outright termination of the employee. Anything from lowering the employee’s wages, lower the employee’s work hours, changing the employee’s job function can be considered retaliation. Any action the employer takes that would deter a reasonable person in the situation from making a complaint can constitute retaliation.
- What are my Rights? – As an employee, you are legally protected when you make a complaint, either internally or externally to an outside body like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a private attorney, about workplace discrimination, harassment, or other illegal practices. An employer may not retaliate against an employee for making an internal complaint, making an external complaint, or engaging in a lawsuit to protect the employee’s rights. If you have been fired, had your hours lowered, had your pay lowered, or otherwise suffered in some way for speaking up about your rights you may have suffered an illegal retaliation action. Contact our attorneys and we will help you understand your rights, understand how to protect yourself, and help you respond to any illegal action.
What is Sexual Harassment? – It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s gender. Harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can take many forms, some of which are quite subtle, such as sexual jokes, sexual innuendos, or unwanted touching. There are generally two types of harassment.
- Quid Pro Quo – this occurs when a superior offers a promotion, raise, or some other type of work consideration in exchange for sexual favors. This can also occur where an employee is sexually extorted, blackmailed or threatened with the loss of his or her job unless he or she performs sexual favors.
- Hostile Work Environment – A hostile work environment occurs when the employer itself has a culture that is “raucous” or “free-wheeling.” This occurs when the employer does not take action against reported misconduct or when the unwanted conduct is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment.
What should I do if I am being sexually harassed?
- Say no - You must make sure the harasser knows, verbally or in writing, that you consider the conduct unwelcome. Firmly refuse all invitations to dating, or personal interaction outside of work.
- Report the conduct to your employer – it is imperative that you report the harassment because your employer must know or have reason to know about the harassment in order to be legally responsible for the co-worker, client, or customer’s behavior.
- Keep records – as soon as you experience behavior you believe to be sexual harassment write it down: write down what was said by everyone, what date and time it occurred at, any witnesses to the behavior, and exactly what happened. Keep copies of your performance evaluations, emails, or letters that document the quality of your work. Save any email or other writing that documents the harassment. Save all of your employer’s responses to reported harassment. This is important evidence that can show a court that the employer knew about the behavior and did not act to protect you. It can also go to show a hostile work environment. Offhand comments are not illegal however if the comments or behavior is frequent or severe in nature then it may go on to show that a hostile environment exists.
- Know your rights – whether you want the behavior to stop, you want to negotiate a peaceful exit from your employer with an appropriate exit package, or bring action to recover the lawyers at Anderson Alexander can help. We can ensure your confidentiality and privacy are protected and that your rights are upheld.
- Insurance Claim Denied – Insurance companies routinely wrongfully deny coverage to their insured customers. These tactics vary and include delaying claims with needless wait times, “fraud investigations”, denying claims because the damage does not exceed the deductible, “waiting periods” or outright denial or a claim. Insurers use these tactics to wrongfully deny coverage to an insured so that the insurer does not have to pay money out for a valid claim.
- How We Help – Filing an insurance claim is a complicated process that can bury you in paperwork. Insurers will have you jump through every hoop they can come up with in an attempt to get you to simply drop the claim. You do not have to face them alone. The attorneys at Anderson Alexander are experienced in dealing with insurance company tactics and will work tirelessly to recover from the insurer for a wrongfully denied claim. If you have submitted a claim for insurance and been denied, then contact our attorneys immediately and let us take on the insurance company for you and get you the money your premiums purchased and that you deserve.