When functioning properly, the relationship between employer and employee is a productive, mutually beneficial arrangement in which a worker performs a defined set of services in exchange for fair payment of wages earned.
However, it is unfortunately all too common for such an understanding to be undermined by an employer’s failure or refusal to uphold their end of the bargain.
If you have been denied appropriate compensation for time spent on the job, a Tampa wage and hour lawyer can provide the assistance required to work to secure the monetary recovery to which you are entitled. An experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa can build a case and help to produce a successful result on your behalf. En Español.
Fundamentals of State and Federal Wage and Hour Law
When it comes to specific legislation that governs wage and hour disputes, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) plays a pivotal role in defining the rights and obligations of workers and those who employ them.While these duties and entitlements can, and in some respects are augmented by Florida statutes, the federal standards provide the baseline rules to be followed.
Employees covered by the Act must receive the prevailing federal or state minimum wage, whichever is greater. Fla. Stat. §448.110 mandates that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity makes an annual calculation of the minimum wage rate to be based on the percentage rise in the federal Consumer Price Index for Clerical Workers and Urban Wage Earners in the South Region for the 12 months prior to September 1 of the preceding year.
Workers who fall under the applicable definitions as outlined in the federal FLSA must be paid Florida’s annually adjusted minimum wage, though tipped employees are compensated somewhat differently. Such individuals are to be paid a direct wage which is equal to the prevailing minimum wage minus the maximum allowable tip credit, provided the amount ultimately paid adds up to the current minimum wage. This process can be best explained using a wage and hour attorney in Tampa.
Overtime Pay for Employees
Florida follows federal FLSA rules concerning overtime pay, including wrong overtime rates, and unpaid overtime, and as such, employees are required to be paid a rate of 1.5 times their normal hourly rate when required to work in excess of 40 hours per week. It is important to note that the mode of compensation (salary, hourly, commission, etc.) will not alone dictate whether an employee is eligible to receive overtime pay.
Unfortunately, many employers intentionally or inadvertently fail in their duty to accurately calculate the wages of those who work more than 40 hours in a week. If an individual believes this may be the case, they should consult with an experienced Tampa wage and hour lawyer as soon as possible.
Exceptions to Coverage
Those who suspect that their employer may be violating their rights when it comes to wage and hour laws need to be aware that a number of exceptions do exist which may remove them from the protections afforded by statute. Worker categories which do not enjoy the aforementioned safeguards include:
- Certain managerial positions
- Laborers on small farms
- Independent contractors
- Employees of small-volume enterprises not engaged in interstate commerce
- Casually employed babysitters
How Violations Commonly Occur
It is often the case that a failure to appropriately compensate employees according to federal and state wage and hour rules is inadvertent on the part of an employer or the result of a simple misunderstanding of what is required. However, there are many other times when it is the result of intentional skirting of the law.
Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for an employer to purposefully mischaracterize a job title in order to obfuscate the need to pay overtime, carry overtime hours worked over to the following week, or deny payment of overtime by stating that the work could have been done in fewer than 40 hours.
Other employers may seek to avoid paying overtime by claiming that the excess hours were not approved in advance and were therefore not eligible for extra pay. No matter the way these violations occur, an individual should discuss their case immediately with a wage and hour attorney in Tampa.
Pursuing Fair Compensation
Workers who believe their rights have been violated in one or more of the above ways have the right to bring a civil action for back wages, provided a series of steps are carefully followed. Written notice must be given to the employer that includes specifics of the claim and which affords the employer a chance to resolve the dispute. Should a solution prove impossible, the claim can proceed to court, where it may be possible for plaintiffs to be awarded:
- Back pay
- Additional damages not exceeding the amount of unpaid wages
- Attorney fees and litigation costs
- Job reinstatement, where applicable
- Injunction prohibiting retaliation or other employer conduct
Benefit of an Attorney
The prospect of battling with an employer over wages is something few workers relish, and the assistance of a skilled Tampa wage and hour lawyer can help alleviate the stress and intimidation that can arise.
If you have been wronged in the workplace and wish to pursue the full amount of compensation you are owed, a wage and hour attorney in Tampa is prepared to vigorously assert your rights.