What is a wage and hour claim?
Wage and hour claims are employee claims arising from unfair pay. What constitutes “fair” pay is determined by a complex web of state and federal laws which employers do not always stay up to date on. Regardless of whether the employer is uninformed or intentionally short-changing an employee, the money is legally owed to the worker.
Workers today face plenty of economic challenges, from changes in the economy to rising inflation. When employers violate the law to avoid paying employees the full wages to which they are entitled, it is unfair and compounds problems.
Our unpaid wages lawyers are here to help non-exempt employees hold employers accountable so that they do not unfairly profit at the expense of their employees.
Types of wage and hour claims
When an employer does not pay or underpays wages, it is sometimes referred to as “wage theft .”Some common employer practices that lead to wage theft include:
- Not paying for all hours worked – Employers often break the law by trying to squeeze extra time out of employees without pay. Examples include pressuring workers to perform additional work off-the-clock, not paying for training and meetings, not paying for lunch breaks that the employer requires an employee to work through, and not paying for work-related travel time.
- Overtime – All non-exempt employees must be paid 1.5 times their hourly rate for every hour over 40 per week. A common abuse occurs when employers mislead employees into believing that salaried workers are not entitled to overtime. This is false – exemption is not determined by the employer or whether they pay a worker hourly or based on a salary.
- Minimum wage – The current minimum wage in Florida is $10.00 per hour, which will increase to $15.00 per hour by 2026. For tipped employees, the minimum wage is $6.98 per hour. Minimum wage violations are a common complaint among tipped employees; if pay plus tips do not meet the minimum wage, the employer is required to make up the difference.
Holding employers accountable for wage and hour violations
If you have been harmed by a wage violation, there are a few paths to recovering the money owed.
- Employer dispute resolution – In Florida, if you have a wage dispute with your employer, you must try to resolve things informally before filing a lawsuit. You can start this process by providing your employer with written notice of your claim. Include why you think you are entitled to additional wages, how much you are owed, and your intent to file a lawsuit if the employer does not pay the outstanding earnings. Your employer will have 15 days to pay the claimed amount or try to work out an agreement that you can both consent to.
- Administrative claim – Depending on the specific law that the employer arguably violated, you may have the option of filing an administrative claim with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. The agency will start an investigation and attempt to resolve the dispute. If a resolution cannot be reached, the DOL may file a federal lawsuit against the employer on the employee’s behalf.
- Lawsuit – If the employment law that the employer has violated is a state law that does not fall under the FLSA, you can file a lawsuit in state court. If the employer’s offense is a violation of federal law, you have the option of filing a federal lawsuit. If the employer has committed the same violation against an entire class of workers, such as by misclassifying an entire group of employees as exempt, then a class action lawsuit may be an option.
A claimant has the right to represent himself in any of these activities but there are many opportunities to commit errors. If you believe you have been underpaid, speak with a wage and hour attorney to find out which of your rights have been violated and what your strongest course of action would be.
Potential compensation available for a Florida wage and hour claim
In Florida, you have four years to file a claim for overdue compensation. If the employer’s violation was willful, then a five-year limit may apply.
If successful, you may be entitled to unpaid wages, as well as liquidated damages, legal fees, and costs. The liquidated damages may be as great as the amount owed, essentially doubling your recovery for back pay. However, you can only pursue liquidated damages if you follow certain notification procedures, so discuss this with your attorney.
Call Us to Schedule a Consultation
If you were left holding the bag after your employer shorted you on wages, consider speaking with an attorney about your rights. Our Florida wage and hour lawyers have held Treasure Coast employers and employers across the state accountable for unpaid or underpaid wages. Call our Stuart, FL law office to schedule a confidential consultation.
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