Workers in the United States are protected by various complex laws and regulations. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that defines the primary issues that shape the work environment. Violations of the FLSA and Florida Labor Laws may subject the employer to penalties and liability under the law.
Unfortunately, many employees and laborers are unaware of their rights in the workplace. Because of this, some could be taken advantage of or be mistreated without realizing their potential for legal actions. If you are a worker in the United States, it is essential that you understand your rights as an employee. Not only will this protect you, it will help you understand what to do in a complicated or adverse situation.
The employment attorneys at Mill Stone Legal Group are committed to upholding standards of excellence and committed to getting you the money you deserve while holding your employer accountable for any wrongdoings that have caused you to suffer.
EMPLOYEE WAGE AND OVERTIME LITIGATION
Are you getting all the rest and meal breaks you are entitled to by law?
Are you misclassified as “exempt” and should you receive overtime pay? Overtime, Minimum Wage, Unpaid Commissions and other “Wage Theft” claims have become the most common methods of employer theft in this country.
Mill Stone Legal Group has advocated for employees’ rights to overtime wages, unpaid commissions and minimum wage since our inception. Our employment attorneys are dedicated to resolving pay issues and advising clients about required meal breaks and overtime pay and any other employee issue that you have.
We commonly find that an employee has been misclassified as exempt, either by ignorance or by design. Employers may call employees independent contractors to avoid overtime pay. They might give a grand-sounding title – like manager – and exempt status to an employee whom really does the same job as hourly workers.
Hours worked in excess of eight in a day or forty in a week must be paid at overtime rates. Double time rates apply in certain situations.
Our employment attorneys are success in identifying which workers are legitimate, non-exempt employees, not independent contractors or actual managers. We look at the specific nature of the work done and the time spent. We are able to get employees’ pay issues resolved and restore to them a sense of fairness.
THE INDUSTRIES WITH THE MOST COMMON OVERTIME VIOLATIONS
Certain industry employers are more likely to violate the overtime laws than others. The most common ones we run into are as follows:
- Hospital Employees
- Medical Support Staff
- Retail Workers
- Restaurant and Service Industry Employees
- Mortgage Brokers
- Secretaries & Assistants
- Construction Workers/Laborers/Landscapers
- Home Health Care Aides
MEAL AND REST BREAKS
Employers love to make an automatic 30 minute or 1 hour deduction every day under the assumption that the employee is eating lunch free and uninterrupted. We all know many employees work through lunch, by eating at their desk and taking calls or emails, or driving to the next work site while eating a sandwich.
The general rule is this – If you do not get a minimum of 15 minutes of free, uninterrupted time (no phone calls, driving, or work related tasks), you are entitled to be paid for that time, and it is illegal for your employer to make a deduction for this time. At 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, that’s 2.5 hours of work (and likely overtime) that your employer is stealing from you. That’s illegal.
Effective January 1, 2016, Florida’s minimum wage increased to $8.05 per hour for non-tipped employees, and $5.03 an hour for tipped employees. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Everyone knows that an employee must be paid the minimum wage for every hour worked, so long as the employer is “covered.”
While minimum wage violations are pretty rare in the non-tipped work force (unless an employer fails to pay an employee his/her final paycheck or owed commissions which drop the total weekly compensation below minimum wage), they are very common in the restaurant and other service industry sectors regarding tipped employees.
COMMISSION AND OTHER “WAGE THEFT” CLAIMS
In our practice area, we see a very common violation where employers either fire an employee before their commissions and wages are due (common in real estate and other sales jobs) in an effort to avoid paying overtime.
What we generally do in this instance, is file a claim for breach of contract, and, because commissions are considered “wages” under Florida law, this generally means that the employer is required to pay our attorneys’ fees and costs if we prevail. We may also file a claim for what is called “civil theft” which, if successful, may entitle the employee to three times the amount of wages wrongfully withheld.
You work hard for your wages. Your employer has no right to keep them, and we make sure they don’t.
THE MYTHS ABOUT OVERTIME
For years, employers have been feeding employees lies about their entitlement to overtime. The 5 most common ones are:
LIE. Here is the deal- there are some employees who, because they are salaried (at least $455 per week) AND because they perform certain duties (like being a manager or high ranking executive who can hire and fire, and/or make important business decisions for the company) are not entitled to overtime.
But, if you are paid a salary and are doing manual labor, or not supervising anyone, or making important decisions on behalf of the company), you likely are entitled to overtime. Piece Rate, Day Rate, and many commissioned employees also are entitled to overtime – NO MATTER WHAT THEIR EMPLOYER SAYS.
LIE. Unless you work for the government, “comp time.” is illegal. You must be paid overtime (anything over 40 hours) in every workweek. There is no such thing as “comp. time” and employers cannot combine weeks to avoid paying overtime. If you work 50 hours in one week and 30 hours in the next week, you still are entitled to 10 hours of overtime pay.
LIE – If your employer knows, or has reason to know you are working overtime, it must be paid whether approved or not. Employers know, or have reason to know, by looking at login times, noticing late night emails or calls, or just using common sense that the employee is working beyond normally scheduled hours.
LIE – Here’s the easy rule, if your commissions don’t exceed your base pay, you generally are entitled to overtime pay (except if you work at a car dealership – then you don’t get overtime).
LIE – The Supreme Court says that even if you agree not to accept overtime or just get straight time pay for overtime hours, that agreement is unenforceable as a matter of law. So, don’t let your employer tell you that you guys can agree not to be paid overtime. It’s wrong.
Wrongful termination (or wrongful discharge) occurs when an employee is wrongly fired by his or her employer. Wrongful termination can be based on several theories; such as breach of an employment contract or protection given under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989.
While many employers engage in fair workplace activities, there are, unfortunately a good number who engage in discriminatory and wrongful termination practices against their employees. Employees are not required to endure this type of treatment and are provided with several avenues in which they can report such activity.
However, as a result of reporting discriminatory workplace activities, employees may wrongfully find themselves let go from their company or unexpectedly demoted. This, in addition to the previous illegal activity or discrimination, is against the law and something for which an employee can take action against an employer.
EXAMPLES OF WRONGFUL TERMINATION
Employment laws protect employees from being mistreated based on inherent qualities. As a result, a person can take legal action against their employer and fight for justice when they are facing wrongful termination or demotion due to the following qualities:
- Gender Discrimination
- Race Discrimination
- Age Discrimination
- Disability Discrimination
- Religion Discrimination
- Workers Compensation Claims
- Fired While on Pregnancy or Medical Leave & More…
Being without a job in today’s economy is stressful, especially if you were wrongfully terminated. If you believe you were fired without cause or are being retaliated against, please contact the results-driven employment attorneys at Mill Stone Legal Group today. We have offices throughout the United States.
OTHER AREAS OF EMPLOYEE RIGHTS OFTEN VIOLATED
- Sexual Harassment at Work: whether it is your fellow employees or your employer who engages in sexual or other harassment, you have rights.
- Workplace Violence: all workers have the right to a safe workplace, but violence does happen.
- Discrimination based on military service (USERRA)
- Hostile Work Environment
- Family Medical Leave Act
- Florida Civil Rights Act
If you are an employee in search of representation or have questions about your rights, please contact the lawyers at Mill Stone Legal Group today at (754) 227-1610. Serving clients nationwide, our law firm can help you get the money and justice you deserve.