There are many state and federal laws that are designed to protect employees from unfair wage practices. In many cases, when an employer does commit wage violations, it is unintentional. However, there are employers who understand what they are doing is illegal, yet they continue those practices regardless. These are seven of the most common violations of wage laws in business today.
1. Misclassify Employees as Contractors
Businesses are turning to independent contractors more and more today. In most cases, this allows them to complete tasks without paying benefits, payroll taxes, or overtime. However, if you are being paid as a contractor but treated as an employee, your employer may be violating labor wage laws.
If you are paid as an independent contractor, but your employer determines when, where and how you work, you should be classified as an employee.
2. Fail to Pay Employees on Time
Some states have regulations regarding when wages must be paid. For example, California requires that employees be paid at least twice each month and the dates of those paydays must be established by the employer before wages are first paid. If your state has such a requirement and your employer does not pay on the dates established, they may be in violation of the law.
3. Fail to Provide Required Breaks
You may be entitled to payment even when you are on your break. The FLSA requires that you be paid for breaks of 20 minutes or less. If you are required to work through a break or meal period, you are required to receive payment for that as well. Many companies try to automatically deduct for breaks, although this is often illegal.
4. Fail to Pay Minimum Wage
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour while many states have higher hourly minimum wages. However, employees who receive tips are often paid less than minimum wage which is not a violation in most states.
A tipped employee who makes $30 per month in tips is entitled to a cash wage of no less than $2.13 per hour. However, many employers pay their tipped employees $2.13 per hour even when they are not making $30 per month in tips, which could be a violation of labor wage laws.
5. Misclassify Employees as Exempt
In most cases, employees who are classified as exempt do not earn overtime pay. However, there are limits on which employees may be considered exempt under the FLSA. Exempt employees must be executive, administrative, and professional employees, or they may serve as outside sales employees.
Each category has specific duties tests that determine if the employee may be considered exempt. For example, an executive must manage the enterprise or department, must direct the work of two or more employees and must have the authority to hire or fire. In all cases, the actual duties of the employee determine exempt status and not the job title.
6. Fail to Track or Pay Overtime
Many employers require that overtime be approved in advance and, when an employee works overtime but fails to get that pre-approval, they refuse to pay. Under the FLSA, employers must pay employees for all hours performed with the knowledge of the supervisor, even if the employee was not asked to do the work.
Under the FLSA, employers must, in most cases, pay time and one-half for overtime work. However, it is important to note that an employee who violates the overtime approval policy could be terminated or disciplined.
If you believe your employer is committing wage violations, you can follow the link to learn more about your options. You work hard for your money, and there is no excuse for an employer to hold any portion of what you’ve legally earned back from you.