There are laws in place that protect employees and ensure that they’re fairly compensated for the work they perform. This is especially true, where an employer requires an employee to work overtime, or hours beyond their normally scheduled shift. While the law establishes how employees much be compensated through minimum wage and overtime laws, less reputable employers might try to take advantage of an employee.
On the other side of the coin, some employers may be charged with violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Minimum Wage Act, or other state or federal labor laws. These aren’t always legitimate claims or charges and the employer may need to show that they have acted in compliance with the laws. An audit by the federal or state Department of Labor offices can adversely affect the business, if they don’t have a legal representative experienced in dealing with such situations.
Common Types of Unpaid Wages
One of the most obvious examples of unpaid wages is the nonpayment of wages for regular hours worked, which may include under reporting the number of hours worked by the employee. In other instances, the employee may be compelled to work overtime hours, yet may not receive the appropriate compensation for the additional time. They may receive straight pay instead of overtime pay, which generally consists of time and a half, or they may not receive pay for those hours at all.
The employer may also make errors in distinguishing between exempt and nonexempt employees, which can affect the net pay for the individuals concerned. Depending on the type of work involved, the employee may rely on sales commissions or bonuses as a part of their total compensation package. In these cases, a failure to pay a commission or bonus can also be considered unpaid wages. Similarly, denying pay for break periods, or where the law requires the employer to pay for lunch breaks, can fall under the category of unpaid regular wages.
In some cases, unpaid wages may be the result of an honest error in bookkeeping. Other circumstances may also have caused an employee to be underpaid for his work. While there are certainly some less reputable employers in today’s society, many incidences are the result of honest errors. In either case, experienced attorneys will have the expertise to sort out issues of nonpayment and mediation can often help avoid a lengthy court hearing.
Real World Examples of Unpaid or Underpaid Wages
Even when you take the time to learn about labor laws it can be difficult to understand them in practical context. By looking at real world examples of the previously mentioned types of nonpayment, you can more easily identify situations in which you may not be receiving your rightful pay. Conversely, these examples may help employers avoid situations in which they’re mistakenly underpaying their employees or independent contractors.
These circumstances are some of the more common experiences, though other incidents may not be covered here. If you feel you’re not being paid fairly, you should contact an experienced attorney to discuss the matter in confidence. Attorneys who regularly work in this area of the law will know how to handle your case to protect you from retaliation by your employer. In many cases, employees won’t come forward and speak up for themselves, fearing they may be terminated or that their undocumented citizenship status may be reported. Even in these cases, employees are protected from retaliation under state and federal employment laws. Fear should never keep you from seeking that which you have a right to receive.
Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but states or cities may establish a higher rate for employers in their jurisdictions. For this reason, it’s always important to check the Department of Labor fact sheets, which should be posted in your place of employment. If you don’t see the information posted, you can ask your employer to provide the information, or you may contact the local Department of Labor website. In today’s digital age, it’s much easier to locate information about your rights as an employee.
Seeking legal representation can help ensure you receive all of the pay you’re owed and that you’re paid fairly for the work you perform. As is always true, your consultation with an experienced lawyer is confidential, whether you hire the lawyer or not. Even a single consultation can provide you with a better understanding of your rights as an employee.
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