Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages

15 06, 2018

Gig Workers Have Rights Too

By | 2018-06-15T14:16:12+00:00 June 15th, 2018|Employment Agreements, Overtime Class Actions, Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages|0 Comments

Gig workers and independent contractor status Many workers in the gig economy sign an acknowledgement that the worker is an independent contractor and not an employee. However, sometimes that is not the end of the story. For one thing, courts are increasingly evaluating whether the company exercises sufficient control over the worker’s everyday tasks that he or she should in fact be classified as an employee. This classification is crucial as workers who are classified as independent contractors are not entitled to the guarantees and protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or other employment statutes. This affects the worker’s entitlement to minimum wage and overtime compensation, unemployment and disability insurance, family leave, workers’ compensation, and sick leave. These statutes only apply to workers who are classified as employees. Further, independent contractors are generally not entitled to employer-sponsored benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. As the gig economy evolves, so does the law On June 7, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a news release reporting that 3.8 percent of U.S. workers, that is 5.9 million individuals, held contingent jobs as of May 2017. With gig workers numbering in the millions, the classification of [...]

1 06, 2018

Be Careful What You Wish For – How Collective Action Waivers May Hurt Employers

By | 2018-06-01T14:50:10+00:00 June 1st, 2018|Employment Agreements, Overtime Class Actions, Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages|0 Comments

What is a collective action? A collective action is a type of class action that is brought by employees to assert their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), most commonly actions alleging wage and hour claims. By utilizing the collective action process, employees can join together to assert individual claims in one action, saving time and money. These types of claims often assert that employees are misclassified and therefore entitled to overtime, or have not been paid for all the time worked, travel time, or meal breaks. Supreme Court upholds collective action waivers in arbitration agreements The Supreme Court of the United States recently held that collective action waivers in employee/employer arbitration agreements are enforceable. These types of waivers are often signed by employees as a condition of accepting a job. In a 5/4 decision, the Supreme Court found that class action waivers do not violate employees’ right to “protected concerted activity” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRA protects employees’ right to communicate with each other and join together to take concerted action to improve working conditions and participate in union-related activities. The Court held that class actions do not constitute concerted activity under the [...]

2 03, 2018

Are You Entitled To Be Compensated For Travel Time?

By | 2018-03-02T19:38:51+00:00 March 2nd, 2018|Overtime Class Actions, Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages|0 Comments

Travel Time Compensation For The Non-Exempt Employee The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay overtime to non-exempt employees, for time worked that exceeds the employee’s usual work time in the employee’s field. Generally, hours worked over 40 hours in a week must be compensated at least one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay. When determining the number of hours an employee has worked and the corresponding amount of regular pay and overtime pay, employers are required to count certain hours of travel time as work time. The Portal-to-Portal Act, which amended the FLSA, attempted to clarify the travel time compensation issue. State and local laws may provide additional protections to employees in terms of travel time compensation and countable work hours. In addition, contracts, customs, and practices, including collective bargaining agreements, may impact an employee’s right to travel time compensation. Some uncertainty and confusion as to compensated travel time remain among employers and employees alike. An employer may fail to count travel time hours as compensable or may fail to count those hours appropriately. Employees are cautioned to keep careful records of their travel hours. Examples of paid and unpaid travel time Pursuant to [...]

20 10, 2017

Local Employer Refused to Pay Workers for Restroom Breaks

By | 2017-10-20T21:16:07+00:00 October 20th, 2017|Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages|0 Comments

Department of Labor sues on behalf of 6,000 workers One local employer just provided a prime example of how far some companies will go to shortchange their employees. Progressive Business Publications, based in Malvern, PA, was sued by the Department of Labor on behalf of 6,000 current and former telemarketing employees last year. The charge: the workers said that the company was violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to pay them for breaks of under 20 minutes. The telemarketers had to log out of their computers every time they left their desks. After 90 seconds of being logged out, they would be clocked out of the timekeeping system. Translation: workers frequently had to choose between going to the restroom or getting paid. Thankfully, federal labor laws exist to combat this kind power imbalance that allows an employer to line his or her own pockets at the expense of employees. A Break by Any Other Name … Is Still a Break We originally wrote about this case last year, when it went to court the first time. Then, the company lost and was ordered to pay back pay and liquidated damages to affected employees—a sum that was expected [...]

22 09, 2017

Philly Area Restaurant Pays $1.3 Million to Settle Unfair Wage Suit

By | 2017-09-25T00:38:11+00:00 September 22nd, 2017|Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages|0 Comments

What all tipped employees need to know As most restaurant servers could probably attest, working for tips means getting used to an uncertain income. Some days, you may go home with pockets full of cash,  but others … well, not so much. Unfortunately, the potential for uneven pay has another serious downside. That is, tipped workers may be especially vulnerable to wage theft. Why is that? Mainly because servers and bartenders are subjected to different compensation rules than other hourly employees. The lack of clear-cut, easily understandable pay guidelines makes it all too easy for some employers to take advantage of tipped employees. In fact, that’s what a group of employees at Iron Hill Brewery claimed happened to them. They alleged that their employer cheated out them out of their rightful compensation by manipulating tip credit calculations. Finally, the company agreed to settle the suit for $1.3 million. So what are tip credits? How do they affect tipped workers’ wages? What other ways might companies attempt to cheat tipped employees out of their rightfully earned pay? Let’s discuss.   What is a Tip Credit? The first thing to know is that tipped employees are generally considered those who receive $30 [...]

1 09, 2017

Is Your Employer Skimming From Your Paycheck?

By | 2017-09-01T20:38:14+00:00 September 1st, 2017|Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages|0 Comments

New report shows companies steal billions from workers every year A new report reveals some alarming findings that all workers should be aware of. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a nonprofit, non-partisan think tank that advocates for the needs of low- and middle-income workers, just released some new findings on minimum wage violations. After studying pay practices in the 10 most-populous states, they found that 2.4 million workers in those states alone lose $8 billion annually to minimum wage violations. That comes out to an average of $3,300 per year for year-round workers. For low-wage employees, that totals nearly a quarter of their earned wages for the year. However, the EPI was quick to point out that wage theft affects all workers in all demographic categories. So what is wage theft? And how can you know if it’s happening to you? Let’s discuss what you should look out for. Wage Theft Defined In a broad sense, wage theft refers to any actions or practices that prevent workers from receiving their legally earned or contractually promised compensation. In other words, wage theft is when an employer illegally reduces or withholds a worker’s pay. Wage theft can include: “shorting” of hours, in [...]

25 08, 2017

What All Tipped Employees Need to Know About Tip Credits

By | 2017-08-25T20:23:35+00:00 August 25th, 2017|Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages|0 Comments

Disney World employee suing over allegedly unfair pay deductions Believe it or not, even people who work at the so-called happiest place on earth have their complaints. A restaurant worker at a Disney World resort is suing the company, claiming that her employer unlawfully deducted tip credits from her pay. However, if you’re a tipped worker and you don’t know what a tip credit is, you’re not alone. Because tipped workers are governed by different pay requirements than salaried or hourly employees, it can be particularly confusing to figure out what employers can and cannot deduct from your paycheck. If you work for tips, here’s a primer on some things you should know about your rights to fair compensation. Who counts as a tipped employee? Tipped employees are generally considered those who receive $30 or more per month in tips. Are tipped employees still entitled to minimum wage? Yes, but that figure may be computed from multiple sources. Under federal law, employers must pay tipped employees a regular hourly cash wage of at least $2.13 per hour. However, some states may have higher rates. For example, in Pennsylvania, employers must pay tipped employees $2.83 per hour. The cash wage is [...]

19 05, 2017

One Sneaky Way Pennsylvania Employers Cheat Workers Out of Overtime

By | 2017-07-29T08:41:58+00:00 May 19th, 2017|Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages|0 Comments

State law is stricter than federal law when it comes to overtime calculations If you work for an employer that has operations in multiple states, it’s wise to pay extra attention to your overtime calculations. Why is that? Because Pennsylvania law differs from federal law in terms of overtime calculations. If you work for big company, such as a retailer, that has a base of operations outside of Pennsylvania, it’s possible that they’re not paying for all of the overtime that’s due to you. Unfortunately, this is a common scenario. Right now, workers at F.Y.E. stores are suing the company for exactly this reason. Last year, 569 managers at Pennsylvania Radio Shack stores received a settlement over $5 million after that company was accused of shorting managers overtime pay. Let’s talk about what the fluctuating workweek is, and how it may affect workers in Pennsylvania. Calculation Shortchanges Workers Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), it’s legal to compensate for overtime using something called the fluctuating workweek model. Many companies like this model because it saves them money, even though that savings comes at a cost to employees. However, Pennsylvania courts have repeatedly found that the fluctuating workweek model [...]

28 04, 2017

Are You an Independent Contractor or an Employee? 6 Questions to Ask

By | 2017-07-29T08:41:58+00:00 April 28th, 2017|Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages|0 Comments

How the “gig economy” translates to federal labor laws Today’s so-called gig economy seems to be populated by a lot of unintentional freelancers. Are you one of them? Maybe you work 40 hours a week (or more) for one company, yet you’re classified as an independent contractor. But that supposed independence comes with a price – and you’re the one paying it. You’re on the hook for your own health insurance. You have to shoulder all of the employment taxes. And forget about collecting disability or taking medical leave if something happens to you. The question is, is this kind of arrangement legal? What the Law Says The Department of Labor (DOL) recognizes that companies may attempt to line their pockets at workers’ expense by classifying employees as independent contractors. That’s why the DOL has created has a six-question framework for determining a worker’s status. While these questions do not comprise a test that requires yes or no answers, they do provide some insight into the context of your arrangement with the company. The six questions to ask are: Who’s in charge? How much control does the company have over your work? Are you making independent decisions and/or controlling your [...]

14 04, 2017

Are You Being Cheated Out of Overtime? What You Need to Know About Misclassification

By | 2017-07-29T08:41:58+00:00 April 14th, 2017|Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages|0 Comments

To be exempt, workers have to meet certain criteria Do you suspect that you’re being cheated out of overtime? If so, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, many employers shortchange workers by misclassifying them as exempt. However, it’s important to know that under federal law, your status as exempt or non-exempt is not based on your job title alone. If you’re working more than 40 hours a week and not earning time-and-a-half for it, it might be worth examining whether you were properly classified. One Way Employers Avoid Paying Overtime Misusing job classifications is a common way that employers attempt to duck out of paying overtime. For example, a worker may be promoted to a supervisory position. Along with the so-called promotion, he or she may have a change in classification, from non-exempt to exempt. All of sudden, the person may find that he or she is no longer eligible for overtime. Sometimes that can result in people in supervisory positions earning less per hour than the hourly employees who are working alongside them – even when supervisors’ job duties still largely mirror those of regular workers. What the Law Says About Exempt and Non-Exempt The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) spells [...]