The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) protects employees by setting a minimum rate of wage, requiring payment of overtime for hours worked over 40, and prohibiting child labor. Many workers are unaware that they are protected by the FLSA, and employers exploit this by underpaying their workers. The attorneys at the Lundell Law Firm can help you and your co-workers get proper wages when the overtime or minimum wage rules are violated.
The FLSA provides that all employers who are “engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, or who are employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce” must pay their employees a minimum wage. The minimum hourly wage was $7.25 per hour as of July 24, 2009. If an employee customarily receives tips as part of his/her job, the tips may be credited toward the minimum wage, but the employer must still pay at least $2.13 per hour regardless of the amount received by the employees in tips. The Department of Labor has established strict regulations as to when an employer may claim a credit toward the minimum wage for tips. If the employer does not follow these regulations, they can be liable to pay the regular minimum wage rate regardless of the amount received by the employee in tips.
Overtime at time and one half your normal rate of pay is required in most occupations for work performed in excess of 40 hours in a week. There are certain exemptions to the overtime provision. For example, employees who work in “professional,” “administrative” or “executive” capacities and who receive a set salary regardless of hours worked are exempt from the overtime provisions of FLSA. Employers, however, sometimes misclassify employees as exempt. If you uncertain whether your position is exempt from the FLSA’s overtime provisions, you should consult with an attorney to determine your right under the FLSA.
Enforcement of the FLSA
Workers who have not received the minimum wage or overtime under the FLSA may bring an action in court to receive the compensation due to them. The time limit for bringing such an action is two years from the date of the violation, or three years if the violation is found to be “willful.” In addition, if an employer has willfully violated the FLSA, the employee may additionally receive liquidated damages in an amount equal to the wages due. In other words, you receive twice what you should have been paid. In a successful action by an employee under the FLSA, the employer can also be required to pay the attorneys fees of the employee. The FLSA also provides that workers may bring a “collective action” on behalf of all similarly situated employees. This allows workers to aggregate their claims and bring them in a single action.
In addition to the FLSA, North Carolina has its own statute providing for minimum wage and overtime. The minimum wage, overtime and youth employment provisions generally parallel the federal FLSA and apply to all businesses whose annual dollar volume is under $500,000. The minimum wage rate is currently $7.25 an hour in North Carolina. Employees can bring both an action under the FLSA and North Carolina law to fully protect their rights.
If you have experienced a violation of overtime or minimum wage at your place of employment, contact a North Carolina employment lawyer at Lundell Law Firm to schedule a consultation.