Surprising Facts about Wage and Hour Violations

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It is a commonly accepted idea that the world revolves around money. Sure, some can argue it is possible to free yourself of the pull money has on your life, but at the end of the day, if you reside in the United States of America money is a key part of your life.

Money is necessary to make a living. You need to be able to provide for yourself and maybe even others on a regular basis. In today’s age, that means paying for necessities like food, shelter, clothing, sanitation, education and healthcare — these can be considered your basic needs.

On top of that, in accordance with the right to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,
many other things, whether a necessity or a luxury, get added to your basic needs, making it so you can live a comfortable and rewarding life.

Unfortunately, nothing — including your basic needs — are free. You must pay for your food, your shelter, your clothing, your sanitation, your education and your health care. These necessities get paid for by money and money gets earned through a job.

Without a job, career, or some other way to get paid for what you do, you will not have money and it will be very difficult to lead a simple yet fulfilling life. But even if you do have a job or career, people still find themselves short when it comes to earning the money it takes to live life.

How is this so?

The answer is simple: wage and hour violations. On a regular basis, millions of American workers are being shorted what they have rightly earned in their job. Employers are taking advantage where they can, and employees are getting hit the hardest.

Surprisingly enough, the most shocking fact about wage and hour violations is the simple fact that employees do not realize they are having their rights violated.

Under federal law exists the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which establish minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, record keeping, and child labor standards affecting part- and full-time workers in the private sector and in federal, state and local governments. It establishes a federal minimum wage ($7.25), which employees have the right to even if their state has a lower established minimum wage, and mandates that workers be paid overtime for work over 40 hours a week at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay.

This basically means that if you are paid $10 an hour, your overtime rate would be that number times time and one-half (1.5). This means your overtime rate becomes $15 and that is what you should be paid for each hour worked over 40 hours in a regular workweek.

Unfortunately, workers either end up not being paid at all for overtime work or are not paid out at the rate outlined by the FLSA. Not paying overtime correctly is one of the most common wage and hour violations. They highlight a study that found more than 75 percent of workers who worked more than 40 hours in a week were not paid overtime or were paid overtime at an incorrect rate.

Many workers are not aware that they have worked overtime and have the right to the correct rate of pay. Some employers just pay their employees their regular rate for any hours over 40, and those employees accept it just because they are getting paid, not realizing it is a wage and hour violation.

Another surprising fact about wage and hour violations is that not being paid minimum wage is one of the most common violations. You would think it is easy to at least pay your employee or employees the minimum wage but many employers, unfortunately, do not.

A recent survey and report [completed] by the Economic Policy Institute found that millions of workers are paid less than the minimum wage. The report found that in the 10 most populous U.S. States 2.4 million workers lose $8 billion annually to minimum wage violations, which ends up to be about 25 percent of their earned wages.

The report finds that workers in Florida, Ohio and New York are most likely to be paid less than minimum wage. But even worse, the underpayment in Pennsylvania and Texas is the worst, with workers being cheated out of more than 30 percent of earned pay.

It is unfortunate to learn that so many people end up cheated out of their hard-earned money, leaving them struggling to meet payments or provide for themselves and/or their families. There are many things being done in an effort to rid the country of this problem. From educating employers to proper work practices to raising the minimum wage to updating the FLSA, there are many things in the works to prevent employers from suffering wage and hour violations.

In the meantime, there are ways for employees to try and get back the money they earned but were never paid. One option is to report a possible wage and hour violation to the Department of Labor and another option is to file a civil lawsuit against your employer.

Reporting to the Department of Labor is a viable option and one that has seen success. In the past five years, $1.2 billion in back wages were recovered by the Wage and Hour Division, helping over 1.3 million workers. In 2017 alone, $270 million in back wages were found for more than 240,000 workers and $86.1 million were found for 97,000 workers in low wage industries.

Pursuing a civil lawsuit for wage and hour violations against your employer also has similar benefits. With either option you could end up entitled to double wages, which means recovering the wages you lost in addition to an equal amount known as liquidated damages.

In any case, it is always important to know your rights as an employee. Everyone deserves a fair shake at comfortably living their life and you should not have your wage and hour rights violated at the hands of your employer. If you do, make sure you pursue whatever you can to get the money you rightfully earned.

AUTHOR: Goodrich and Geist

Copyright Goodrich & Geist, P.C.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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