Wage and hour attorneys in Philadelphia help ensure that employees are paid for the time they work in the manner the law allows. Many times, employers try to cut corners through how they classify and pay their employees, allowing them to save money in taxes and salaries. This is illegal. For over 25 years, the attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group have worked hard to help employees receive the compensation they deserve for the work they do.
Wage and hour laws are designed to ensure employees receive the proper compensation for an honest day’s work. Employees work to get paid. However, the laws dictate how employees should be classified and how they should be paid. This law dictates who can be a salaried employee and who can be an hourly employee entitled to overtime pay for hours worked over 40 hours a week. The law also dictates who can be an independent contractor as opposed to an employee. Violations of these laws affect the amount of money employees earn and the benefits they receive.
The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Industry set the laws for minimum wage, overtime pay, tipped employee wages, employment deductions, and independent contractors in Philadelphia. Under this law, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour for non-ripped employees and $2.85 an hour for tipped employees who make at least $30 in tips per week.
In addition, the laws say employees must make at least $455 per pay week to be classified as exempt or salaried employees.
Wage and hour violations encompass numerous issues affecting employee pay and compensation. Some examples of such violations include:
- Misclassification of employees
- Refusing to pay time and a half to employees who work over 40 hours a week
- Refusing to ensure tip employees make $7.25 per hour combining minimum wage and tips
- Paying employees less than $7.25 per hour.
- Paying employees under the table
- Deducting money for unapproved expenses from an employee’s paycheck
- Forcing employees to share tips with the employer
- Not allowing minors proper meal and rest breaks
- Paying Comp time that is not overtime pay for overtime work
- Deducting hours from an employee’s paycheck (known as time shaving)
- Not providing a paystub that properly documents an employee’s hours worked and deductions with each pay stub
- Refusing to pay employees for the time it takes to put on an take off protective gear as part of their employment responsibilities (known as donning and doffing)
- Forcing employees to pay for mandated uniforms
- Classifying employees as independent contractors to avoid paying taxes or benefits
- Refusing to pay for hours spent in employer-mandated meetings and trainings
- Retaliation for reporting a wage and hour claim to HR or the Department of Labor
Like most laws, there are exceptions to the types of employees covered under wage and hour protections. They include:
- Companions for the sick or elderly
- Bona Fide executives, administrators, or professionals
- Outside salespeople
- Taxi drivers
- Volunteers to apprentices for charitable, religious, or education organizations
- Members of religious orders
- Students and Handicapped individuals employed with religious or charitable organizations
- Employees of a summer camp operated by a religious or charitable organization operating less than three months each year
- Staff counselors in children’s camps
- Employees of student or faculty associations or fraternities
- Employees of federal, state, or municipal governments or their subdivisions
- Volunteers at recreational or amusement events that run 8 days or less
- Farm laborers
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor provides a time limit of 3 years to file a claim for unpaid wages. The Department can then go to your employer to attempt to get you paid the unpaid wages. The employer must respond within 60 days or the case can be brought to trial and you can receive an additional 25% of the claim amount.
As mentioned above, an employer who does not respond to a Department of Labor request may be ordered to pay 25% of the money owed to the employee in addition to the money owed. Other remedies include:
- Reinstatement of employment and benefits
- Reimbursement of benefit premiums
- Reimbursement of medical and other related expenses
- Back pay
- Future pay
- Attorney’s fees
- Court costs
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Punitive damages
There is no set time for a wage and hour claim to be completed in the courts. Most lawsuits will take anywhere from 4 to 6 months to 1 year or more. If the employer is willing to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement, the lawsuit could be settled within 4 to 6 months without ever going to trial. However, if an employer insists on going to trial, the process to prepare for trial can take a year or longer. The trial may then take an additional few days to few weeks, depending on the details of the case.
If you are the victim of wage and hour violations, there are a few things you should do as you decide whether to file a claim.
- Contact a Philadelphia wage and hour attorney immediately.
- File a claim in writing with HR or your supervisor for unpaid wages.
- Collect evidence. This includes emails, text messages, pay stubs, policies discussing employee wages or compensation, timecards, and any other evidence you may have to support your claim.
- Documents the hours you work. Take pictures with time and date stamp of your clocking in and out of work. Screenshot your computer for your start and end times. Find ways to prove you were working even if your employer says you were not.
- Do not quit your job if you have not been terminated.
- Do not waste time. Your time to file your claim is limited. Contemplate your decision quickly and make sure you do not wait past the time limit allowed to file a claim.
Employees are not volunteers. They expect and deserve to be compensated for their work. The law provides protections to make sure that employees are properly compensated for their work and are not easy targets for employers to save money at their expense. If you are the victim of wage and hour violations in Philadelphia, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group can help. Contact us today at (215) 391-4790 for a free consultation. We do not collect any money until you win your case.