Employment Law

The employer-employee relationship may often seem out of balance. Many employees hesitate to speak up if something seems wrong because they’re concerned about losing their jobs. But, federal law and the laws of many states offer a wide range of protections you may not know about. Here are some of the most important issues employees face, and what you can do about them.

Wage & Hour Violations

Wage and hour violations are sometimes called “wage theft,” and for good reason. When an employer fails to pay for every hour you work, or fails to compensate you at the required overtime rate, or pays less than minimum wage, they’re taking money out of your pocket. Fortunately, federal law sets hard and fast rules about the time you must be compensated for, and when overtime pay is required. In some states, the protections are even more significant. For instance, federal law requires payment of 1.5 times your regular hourly wage for every hour beyond 40 that you work in a week. But, some states also require overtime pay if you work more than eight hours in a day.

Some of the ways employers cheat workers out of pay include:

• Requiring employees to stay until certain tasks are complete, but to clock out at a set time regardless of whether they are done working

• Requiring employees to arrive early to work for prep or to change into uniforms onsite, but not to clock in until the official start of their shifts

• Paying regular wages for hours in excess of 40 in a week
Even 15 minutes/day adds up over time–and more so for the employer. An individual employee who is cheated out of $5/day loses about $1,300/year. If that employer is cheating each of 100 employees of that same $5/day, the company is saving $130,000/year. With a very large company, those dollars skimmed from hourly workers can easily grow to millions.

Depending on the violation and the state you’re in, you may be entitled to back wages, double damages, and attorney’s fees.
Depending on the violation and the state you’re in, you may be entitled to back wages, double damages, and attorney’s fees.

Wrongful Termination

You may have heard that in most states, an employer can fire you for “any reason or no reason.” That’s almost true, but the exceptions are important. For example:
• An employer can’t legally fire you for a discriminatory reason based on a protected classification, such as race, color, sex, religion, national origin, pregnancy, or age (if you’re over 40)

• An employer can’t legally fire you in retaliation for certain actions, such as whistleblowing or filing a workers’ compensation claim.

• An employer can’t legally fire you in violation of a contract, if you have one
When in doubt, consult an attorney. Resolve Law Group is here to help ensure that you get the benefits you deserve.
If you’ve been fired under questionable circumstances, consult an experienced employment lawyer to learn more about your rights. Your time to act may be limited, so educate yourself right away.

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Workplace Harassment and Employment Discrimination

Workplace harassment and discrimination go hand in hand, because federal law only prohibits harassment in the workplace if that harassment is based on one of the protected classifications listed above. And, not all harassment–even if based on race, sex, or another protected classification–is actionable. The harassment must rise to a level that a reasonable person would experience as a hostile work environment.

Other forms of discrimination may be more subtle and may still give rise to discrimination claims. Some examples include passing someone over for promotion, giving them unfavorable assignments, paying them less, demoting them, or declining to hire them on the basis of one of these protected classifications.

Some who has been the victim of this type of harassment or other discrimination must generally submit a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and wait for a decision before filing a federal lawsuit, so it’s in your best interest to act quickly.

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