The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protects employees’ right to earn at least the federal minimum wage, to be paid for all the work they do, to keep tips, and to limit deductions. While state laws vary, many provide even greater protections, including setting deadlines by which employees must be paid, requiring employers to pay employees for unused vacation or paid time off, and others.
Minimum Wage Violations
In every state, employees are entitled to earn at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Many states have begun setting even higher minimum wages, and you are entitled to the highest minimum wage applicable to the state in which you work. For example, New York has set a minimum wage of $8.75 per hour, while New Jersey has a minimum wage of $8.38.
Tipped Wage Violations
The FLSA allows employers to pay those employed in traditionally tipped positions (such as bartenders or servers) a much lower minimum wage of $2.13 per hour, but only if the tips actually received bring the total pay to at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25. If you have a slow shift, and your tips would not bring you up to that amount, your employer must make up the difference. Again, states can set a higher rate than the federal minimum, so New York has set a rate of $5 per hour (which will move to $7.50 on December 31, 2015), while New Jersey follows the federal standard of $2.13.
Under federal law, employers may withhold money to cover certain costs or debts you might owe to the employer. However, your boss cannot deduct so much that your earnings fall below minimum wage. In fact, some states do not allow these types of deductions at all, no matter how much the employee earns or limits the types of deductions that can be made.
Your employer cannot refuse to pay you for every hour you work. If your employer tries to get you to work off the clock, fails to pay for required training, refuses to allow you to take breaks, or does not pay you for overtime, your employer has committed a wage and hour violation.
What to Do If Your Employer Is Breaking the Law
In the vast majority of cases, when these problems occur, they are not mistakes. Contact John J. Zidziunas & Associates — we have years of experience in labor and employment law. We can answer your questions and help you with any legal issues you may be facing. We can tell you if you have a case, whether bringing your case to court would make good financial sense, and what alternatives are available to you. Contact us now for a no-cost, 30-minute consultation, either by email or by calling 973-509-8500.