Wage or Hours Disagreements
Wage and hour laws cover topics such as minimum wage, overtime, breaks, vacation/sick leave and severance pay among several others. If you have a disagreement with your employer or boss over the amount of time you are being paid for or amount of money you are being paid, it may help you to understand the law.
Thank you to attorney, Bertha Burruezo of Burruezo & Burruezo, PLLC for significant contribution to this article.
What are your rights?
While employed in the United States you are entitled to certain standards that are outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and enforced by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Florida also has laws and agencies (Florida Department of Labor and Employment Security) in place to compliment the FLSA and assist in maintain a just work environment.
The FLSA also requires employers to pay an overtime rate of at least time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. However, some employees are exempt.
In Florida, all employers must pay the state minimum wage of $8.46 as of 2019, which is currently higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The minimum wage frequently changes, so it is important to stay up to date.
It is common for employers to offer paid time off (PTO) to their employees, usually sick days, vacation time, etc. However, neither Florida or federal law requires employers to offer paid leave.
What do you need to do?
If you believe your employer is violating state or federal wage laws, the first step you should take is make a formal complaint within your company. Again, reference your employee handbook to locate the grievance procedure or figure out how to file a complaint. An Human Resources (HR) department would also be able to provide you with this information. Ask for a copy of your claim in writing, for your files. If the claim is based on the Florida Minimum Wage Statute, making this internal complaint is crucial before filing a claim with Wage and Hour Division, a state agency or filing a private lawsuit.
If your issue is left unresolved, the next step is to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor. The WHD can investigate your employer and determine if laws are being violated. In some cases, the Department of Labor will file a lawsuit against the violating employer to recover wages for the employees.
In Florida, state unpaid wage claims can be filed with the Florida Department of Labor and Employment Security for an investigation.
As an employee, you may also file a private lawsuit to recover wages and damages, plus attorney fees and court costs as well.
What to consider before taking action?
Be sure to consult with a lawyer because the laws and standards outlined above only scratch the surface of wage and hour laws that employers must comply with. If you are at all suspicious that your rights are being violated, a lawyer will be able to guide you in the right direction.
There are time limitations to file a lawsuit or complaint, so be sure to consult with a lawyer.
Study your Employee Handbook in order to learn your company’s specific policies, perhaps regarding paid time off, and determine if your rights are being infringed.