Many employees are unaware and are often abused with regards to the application of the Fair Labor and Standards Act and the South Carolina Wage Payment Act.
According to the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, for the year 2003 alone, over $212 million in back wages were paid due to violations of the overtime laws.
Aside from the payment of back wages, employers who violate overtime laws may be subject to both criminal liability and civil liability, including attorneys fees.
The Fair Labor and Standards Act establishes that individuals employed in the private sector must be paid minium wage. These requirements also cover federal, state and local government employees.
While the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, last set on July 24, 2009, many states also have their own minimum wage laws. When there is a conflict between state and federal wage laws, the employee is entitled to whichever amount is higher as wages.
There are exceptions though to the application of the minimum wage laws. If employers have employees that receive tips as part of their daily earnings, then these employees are entitled to a wage of $2.13 per hour under the following conditions:
- The amount of tips received would be equal or greater than the federal minimum wage;
- The employee would keep all of the tips, regardless of the amount;
- The employee’s total monthly tip earnings is greater than $30;
Should the tips received by the employees plus their daily wages are less than the federal minimum wage, then the employer is required to pay for the difference between the two amounts.
Another exception to the minimum wage laws is the employment of underage workers.
Unless an employee is classified as an exempt employee, employers are required to pay employees time and a half pay for all hours worked beyond forty in any given work week.
However, the law though does not require an employee to pay his or her employees extra pay for working on weekends or holidays unless these hours are considered overtime work. Extra pay for weekends or during holidays is entirely at the discretion of the employer.
There are many ways that employers attempt to avoid compliance with the legally mandated overtime pay requirements.
- Forcing an employee to work off the clock, which is requiring the employee to clock out and then return to work to complete the unfinished work.
- Shortchanging hours, especially for break times. Under the law, break times are considered part of paid time if the break lasts no longer than twenty minutes. Shortchanging time involves excluding break time in the computation of the hours of work.
- Misclassifying workers to include them in the exemptions under the law. An example would be classifying employees with non-supervisory or non-managerial functions as supervisors and thus exempt from overtime pay.
If you or someone you know has been working without overtime pay and is entitled to it, contact our employment attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC. Our employment attornyes provide a free, no cost consultation to discuss your rights and options as an employee entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA.