What rights do you have with respect to your paycheck? Can your employer withhold it? Can they dock your pay to punish you? Can they neglect to pay you your last paycheck once you have left your job? If you have a job, and you show up and work your hours, you are entitled to be paid for the time that you worked. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees who are not exempt from the act, must be compensated at least at the level of the minimum wage for all of the hours that they work. If an employee works over 40 hours in a workweek, they must be paid at least time and a half for every hour in excess of 40 that they work.
In case you suspect that your employer is not adhering to the law when it comes to your payday, here are a few ways that employers may be violating the law.
Not paying the minimum wage
Any employer covered by the FLSA, which includes most employers, must pay their employees at least the minimum wage for every hour that they work. Many states have set minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum wage, in which case, the employer must meet the higher of the two minimum wages. Most people know this, but at times, an employer might violate the minimum wage law by not counting all of the hours worked by an employee, or by not paying employees for very short breaks. In businesses such as restaurants, where many of the employees depend on gratuities, employers run the risk of violating minimum wage laws as well. If an employee does not get enough money in tips to make their total hourly rate at least the minimum wage, then the employer must pay the employee more per hour so that the total number is at least the minimum wage.
Not paying on time
The FLSA is vague on the issue of when an employer must pay an employee their wages. There is a good chance that your state has a more specific law about how long an employer can wait before paying you for your time. Employers who take too long to pay their employees are likely in violation of the law.
Other laws might exist if the employee is separating from the company. In some states employees who are fired must be paid immediately, while employers can wait until the next payday for employees who quit. The law varies by state, but employers are always required to pay employees promptly for work that they did, even if the employee left the company.
Punishing employees with docked or decreased pay
An employer cannot dock an employee’s pay as a form of punishment for what they view as unsatisfactory work performance. This rule is different depending on whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt from the FLSA. If an employee is exempt, then he or she is likely paid a salary. In this case, docking pay is complicated, but it can be done on some few specific scenarios. If the employee did not work for an entire workweek they need not be paid for that time, the same is true if they do not work for a day or more for a reason that does not include illness or an accident. Under certain circumstances employers might be allowed to dock pay for serious violations of company policy or issue suspensions for violating rules of conduct.
With hourly employees employers must pay them for all of the time that they worked. If the employee does not show up for their shift, then they do not need to be paid for those hours.
It is not acceptable to lower an employees pay retroactively. If an employer wishes to lower the amount of money they are paying their employee, they can only do so moving forward, not after the employee has already performed the work.
If you believe that your employer has violated a law related to your paycheck, you can contact the United Stated Department of Labor’s Wage and Hours Division. You should also consider consulting an employment law attorney to ensure that your rights are not being violated, and that you are being properly paid for all of the work that you do.
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At Stern Law, PLLC, we have compassionate and caring attorneys ready to work with you to find the best solution to your employment law related legal issues. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 for a free consolation with an experienced employment attorney.