Wage & Hour Lawyer in Miami, Florida
- Does your Florida employer owe you unpaid wages?
- Does your Florida supervisor treat you like an employee but claim on official documents that you are working as a consultant or independent contractor?
All too often, Florida employers cut corners, abuse wage and hour regulations to save money, and force their employees to work extra hours without the appropriate compensation. Wage and hour violations occur across industries throughout South Florida—especially in Miami and Broward counties— and the state of Florida.
It does not necessarily only affect major cities, hospitality industries, or service trades, it affects all industries! For instance, even hard-working individuals working as IT workers, service technicians, installers, sales representatives, nurses and other healthcare employees, retail workers, tipped workers, oil and gas field employees, call center employees, personal bankers, personal mortgage brokers. Such employees listed are particularly vulnerable to wage and hour violations and if you were denied overtime or otherwise paid improperly, you may be able to file an individual lawsuit or a collective action lawsuit on behalf of yourself and other employees. You and your coworkers have the right to a minimum wage rate!
Do you know your right to minimum wage as a Florida employee?
Minimum wage is the lowest hourly pay that employers cannot fall below. Subject to certain exceptions under the law, employees are entitled to the highest applicable minimum wage, whether it’s the federal, state, or local rate. While the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but some states—like Florida—have passed legislation enforcing a higher minimum wage. As of January 1, 2018, the Florida minimum wage is $8.25 per hour. Florida law requires the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to calculate a minimum wage rate each year. This number is calculated annually based on the percentage increase in the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers in the South Region. Despite federal and state laws, some employees are cheated out of minimum wage. Day-rate workers and tipped employees are particularly susceptible to minimum wage violations because of how they are paid.
Moreover, another typical problem is when employers fail to pay their employers for all hours worked. Employers must pay for all time spent working for the benefit of the employer. It does not matter whether the employee is on the employer’s premises or not, it qualifies as compensable time and must be paid, for instance, this includes time:
- Turning on computers
- Cleaning equipment
- Putting on equipment or gear
- Undergoing security checks
- Working throughout meal breaks
- Attending training or safety classes
- Taking short breaks that last between 5 – 20 minutes
- Checking emails from home
- Being on-call
Does your Florida superior claim you are “exempt” from overtime pay and other benefits?
Employers cannot escape minimum wage and hour regulations by classifying their employees as “exempt” from overtime pay and other federal pay provisions. The “exempt” classification means that a particular type of employee is not entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week. Sadly, employees can sometimes be wrongly classified as “exempt” either because their employer doesn’t understand the law or is trying to avoid paying overtime. For instance, an employer may promote a waitress to “assistant manager” without changing the worker’s job duties and pay to claim that he or she is an “exempt” manager under wage and hour law and therefore not have to pay overtime wages.
Another way that employers cut corners is by misclassifying their employers as an independent contractor. Employers do so because independent contractors typically work on a contract basis for other businesses and are considered self-employed. As such, independent contractors do not receive overtime pay, their employer does not withhold taxes, and their employer is not subject to many tedious employment laws. In reality, the distinction between an employee relationship and independent contractor relationship is a multi-factor test that depends on many factors and case law. Certain important factors include:
- The extent to which the services rendered are an integral part of the principal’s business. The permanency of the relationship.
- The amount of the alleged contractor’s investment in facilities and equipment.
- The nature and degree of control by the principal.
- The alleged contractor’s opportunities for profit and loss.
- The amount of initiative, judgment, or foresight in open market competition with others required for the success of the claimed independent contractor.
- The degree of independent business organization and operation.
Florida went above and beyond federal wage and hour laws, as a matter of public policy. Like federal wage and hour laws, the State of Florida’s overtime provisions effectively tracks the federal provisions. For instance, employers—like yours—must pay employees one-and-one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay overtime. While these laws—at both a state and federal level— do not block an employer from acting unlawfully, they do offer a means of redress if the unlawful activity occurs.
What is overtime pay under Florida State law?
The law in Florida and also in Federal Courts give employees a right to enforce their overtime rights. There is no reason for you to be taken advantage of. Our team can recover unpaid overtime and vindicate your rights as a worker.
Overtime laws are designed to prevent an employer from taking advantage of an hourly paid employee during the workweek by requiring the employee to work excessive hours without fair compensation. Depending on the circumstances, salaried workers can sometimes receive overtime as well. Under the law when, employees are considered to be “covered” under overtime law when they work more than 40 hours in a given workweek, such employees must be compensated at a rate of at least one and one-half times their regular hourly rate for each hour worked in excess of 40.
For instance, suppose that a female secretary’s workweek begins on Monday. Between Monday and the following Friday, the secretary works a total of 50 hours. As such, she is entitled to receive (1) her regular rate of pay for the first 40 hours, (2) plus one and one-half times her regular rate of pay for the additional 10 hours beyond those first 40 hours. However, it is very important to note that there are many exceptions to both minimum wage and overtime requirements.
If you didn’t receive the overtime rate, you can collect 50% of your regular rate per hour. Employers covered under overtime law cannot come up with elaborate schemes to avoid paying overtime. Thus, it is best to consult with a knowledgeable employment law attorney to learn your exact rights.
What can I do today if I think my employer is violating my wage & hour rights?
An employee who knows his or her rights can not only stand up against abuses of his or her own rights but abuses of his or her coworkers’ rights as well. Employers who act unlawfully or violate their employees’ rights can, and should, suffer severe actions taken against them under the law.
First of all, get together all of your past pay stubs and documents showing the hours you have worked each week for your Florida employer. The more records the better! If your employer did not keep such official records, you can also, start keeping track of the wage you have worked and are working now. You work too hard to not be paid every cent you earned. Keeping track of every minute you worked helps your wage and hour attorney analyze the facts of your particular case. You can use these helpful governmental links to guide you about keeping track of such records: https://www.dol.gov/whd/FLSAEmployeeCard/WrkHrsRecordkeeper.pdf and https://www.dol.gov/whd/FLSAEmployeeCard/calendarR5Web.pdf.
Second, when attempting to resolve grievances related to employment, it is best to consult with an employment law attorney, qualified to handle wage and hour claims, if prior informal discussions with one’s employer does not bring about a solution. And of course, if you are unsure about your precise rights, an employment law attorney can help you understand your rights as well. Thus, if you feel your employer is not paying you fairly under either federal law or Florida law, or you have been subject to unlawful discrimination on the job contact one of our Miami attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC today for a free consultation!
Contact our experienced wage and hour attorneys in Miami and throughout Florida
Wage and hour claims in Florida are very complex due to the many exceptions and calculations under the law. Our attorneys have years of experience litigating claims of employment issues, sexual harassment, discriminatory conduct, and wage and hour claims. Our attorneys work together as a team and we have recovered millions on behalf of our clients who were cheated out of the money they earned and for individuals discriminated against at the workplace. If you feel like your employer is not following the law or that you have been discriminated against, please call us today at (877) 469-5297 or contact our Miami employment attorneys online by filling out the contact form at the top right of this page. We offer free consultations and would love to see how we can help you.
Derek Smith is not yet admitted to practice law in Florida. His Partner, Andrew Alitowski, Esq. is admitted to practice law in Florida and runs the Miami office. Additionally, Kelly O’Connell is admitted to practice law in Florida and also operates out of the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC Miami office. Derek Smith is sitting for the July Florida Bar exam and hopes to be admitted in Florida shortly.