Employment Law Information
Types of cases:
- Hiring Discrimination
• Sexual Harassment
• Workplace Safety
• Workers’ Compensation
• Medical Leave
Employment law covers nearly every aspect of the working world. Federal and state laws regulate how workers are hired, what they may be paid, their hours and breaks, how they may be fired, and their right to a safe and harassment-free workplace. All workers are entitled by federal law to a safe workplace, a minimum wage, breaks, and overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week. Most are also entitled to take time off for family or health reasons and to protection against employment discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation for “blowing the whistle” on an employer’s illegal practices. Work for children under age 18 is strictly limited. These laws apply even to part-time workers, tipped employees and migrant workers.
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Overtime Payment Rules Are Now More Complicated
Employee wages, including overtime payments, are complex issues governed by both federal and state legislation. In 2004 the Department of Labor (DOL) made changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This marked the first major overhaul of the federal overtime law in over 50 years, and the changes have made overtime pay regulations even more complicated. Generally, when employers hire an employee they are classified by job as either “exempt”, those not eligible for overtime payments, or “non-exempt”, those eligible and entitled to receive overtime payments.
Wage and hour violations are the most frequent workplace violations. These violations include employers who have systematically failed to pay overtime to hundreds or even thousands of employees, smaller and less-sophisticated companies who are not fully aware of the federal overtime laws, employers who mistakenly fail to pay overtime because they assume an employee is exempt and others whose intention it is to purposely cheat workers of overtime payments.
Since the legislative changes there have been large numbers of cases addressing these issues. Some of the most notable include Starbucks, Wal-Mart and Radio Shack. Since overtime violations generally involve large groups and have become more prevalent since the laws were changed, companies of all sizes are starting to make a number of efforts to ensure compliance. This includes knowing all of the regulatory bodies that govern these laws.
The FSLA establishes the hourly minimum wage, overtime pay rules, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting all full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in some branches of the government. The exact amount of the minimum wage paid to workers increases periodically.
The Employment Standards Administration’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is the government entity responsible for administering and enforcing labor laws, including the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other employee guidelines.
Unless specifically exempted, hourly employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of forty hours in a work week at a rate not less than time and one-half of their regular rates of pay. The number of hours an employee works in a single workweek, for those aged 16 and older, is unrestricted. There are not any requirements for overtime payments to employees who work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or days of rest. In addition, an employee’s workweek must be a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours (seven consecutive 24-hour periods). The workweek does not need to coincide with the calendar week and different workweeks may be established for different employees or groups of employees. However, once an employee’s workweek has been established, it should remain fixed, regardless of the schedule of hours worked. The employer may adjust the start of the workweek if the change is intended to be permanent and is not designed to evade the overtime payments to the employee. Read more →