In the United States, more than 180 federal laws are in place to protect approximately 150 million workers and 10 million employers. Whether you are an employee or the employer, some basic knowledge of employment law is important in ensuring that you play your part in creating a productive and well-run work environment.
In this blog post, Hogue & Belong Law discusses common labor law violations that everyone must be aware of and vigilant against.
Minimum wage violations
One of the most basic expectations one can have from a professional setting is that the employer complies with federal minimum wage laws. All covered employees should be paid at an hourly rate of at least $7.25.
Exceptions may apply to workers younger than 20 years old, who should expect at least $4.25 per hour during their first 90 days (calendar days) of employment. For workers who receive tips as part of their job, the hourly rate can be as low as $2.13, provided that the total of the tips plus the hourly rate equals at least the $7.25 minimum wage rate.
It’s also important to note that some states and cities have higher minimum wage rates. California, for example, requires that companies with more than 26 employees pay a minimum wage of $14 per hour.
Violations involving employees’ vacation time
Employers are not required by law to pay their employees for any unused vacation time. However, there are some exceptions that may lead to violations of employment law.
- Non-payment of unused vacation time upon termination – California is one of the states where unused vacation time must be paid when an employee leaves the company. An exception can be made when a collective bargaining agreement between the employer and their employees states otherwise.
- “Use it or lose it” policy – In California, employers are not allowed to adopt this type of policy, which causes workers to lose their vacation leaves if unused by the end of the year. Instead, a reasonable grace period is extended to provide employees the opportunity to use their vacation time.
Unpaid commissions or bonuses
While commissions and bonuses are not regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act, you may still report any non-payment of commissions and/or bonuses if these were promised in writing by your employer.
Unpaid or insufficient overtime pay
Overtime pay applies to employees who render services over a 40-hour work week. Any work delivered beyond the base 40 hours must be paid at a rate of 150% the regular hourly rate. Overtime pay must be given, regardless whether the excess hours were scheduled or authorized.
For employees, it’s important to keep track of how many hours you work in a week in order to prevent or identify violations of overtime pay rules.
Compensatory time versus overtime pay
In some cases, companies offer compensatory time as an alternative to overtime pay. Comp time is paid time off that employees can use at a later date. However, it must still be paid at the same 150% rate as overtime wages.
Misclassification of employees
Workers may be subject to unfair treatment and compensation through deliberate misclassification, so it’s important to be clear about your status as an employee.
- As exempt workers – Exempt workers are not entitled to receive any overtime pay, so be clear whether you are exempt or non-exempt.
- As independent contractors – As self-employed workers, independent contractors are not covered by the same tax and wage laws that affect employee compensation and benefits. If you are an employee, make sure that your employer doesn’t classify you as an independent contractor.
There is never any place for discrimination, especially in a professional environment. Any unfair treatment that is based on an employee’s age, gender, race, nationality, or religion, is considered in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Sexual harassment is considered workplace discrimination and is in fact one of its most common forms.
Any violations based on prejudice can be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Employees who are subject to discrimination-based workplace law violations must not be afraid of retaliation, especially if the employer is the offending party. All complainants are protected by law from retaliation.
If you need an excellent employment attorney in San Diego, contact Hogue & Belong, APC. With more than 30+ years of experience, our lawyers have the knowledge and insight that you’ll need to seek justice for wage loss and other employment law violations.