The United States guarantees that all workers make at least minimum wage. You also have the right to be paid overtime or “Time and a Half” if your work week is longer than forty (40) hours. These rights are granted through the Fair Labor Standards Act, otherwise known as the FLSA. The FLSA has guaranteed these rights since 1938.
What are your rights as an employee in the United States? Let’s take a closer look at some of the general protections.
The FLSA offers a few basic guarantees to all employees in this country. The first is a minimum wage, which is set at $7.25 per hour. Employers are required to pay their employees this amount at the very minimum, provided they are an employee of a company, and not an intern or other specialized position that has been exempted from this rule. Employees are required to be paid weekly for the relevant time period, again unless a state law or other exemption allows for a different pay period. Finally, the FLSA states that employers are allowed to deduct from pay to cover the costs of things like uniforms, tools, or shortages, provided they do not bring a worker’s pay to below this minimum wage amount.
New Orleans follows this federal minimum wage standard of $7.25 per hour, but it also includes a weekly minimum wage of $290 for a 40-hour work week, which translates to an annual minimum age of $15,080. There are a few exceptions, however. Tipped employees, like servers or delivery drivers, as well as student employees may be eligible to make less. Employees who work on a commission system won’t necessarily have a minimum wage either.
However, many people are often surprised by what the FLSA does not include. For example, the FLSA doesn’t include mandatory vacation, holiday, or sick pay for employees, and any instance of those is entirely at an employer’s discretion. On a similar note, it doesn’t include any mandatory employee benefits, such as health insurance or pension plans. The FLSA doesn’t include any premium pay standards for working weekends or holidays.
Overtime is designed to compensate employees who are required to work a large number of hours each week by mandating that labor past a certain be paid more. This incentivizes employers to allow their employees to go home and have extra time away from work. Overtime pay is mandated as 1.5 times an employee’s regular hourly rate, but this does not begin until an employee reaches 40 hours in the work week. The 40-hour mark is based upon 7 consecutive 24-hour days, and includes all time in which you are required to be on a work site. Note, an employer cannot pool your hours over a 2-week period (i.e. 60 hours in week one and 20 hours in week two) to avoid overtime.
Also, employers cannot circumvent this law by calling their employees “salaried employees.” Only certain positions can be salaried. Employers who require their employees to stay on the work site for longer than 40 hours per week, regardless of their pay structure, are required to pay the 1.5 pay rate for those overtime hours. Failing to so do and claiming an employee is “salaried” violates the FLSA.
As an employee, if your employer violates any of the terms of the FLSA, you have the right to pursue legal remedies for the amount of pay you haven’t received, known as “back pay.” You have two primary options available to you if you are not properly compensated for your labor:
- File a complaint with the Secretary of Labor, who can bring a lawsuit against your employer for back pay and other damages you may have sustained through their conduct.
- Hire a New Orleans employment attorney who can file a private lawsuit on your behalf, which is usually the faster and more successful option. Awards for successful cases usually include the coverage of your attorney fees.
These lawsuits can be difficult to prepare for, and it’s strongly advised you obtain as many records as possible, including pay stubs, timesheets, and more in order to support your claim. Our skilled team at Chopin Law Firm, LLC can use this evidence to effectively argue in your favor and work to support your case in order to obtain the most beneficial outcome.