North Carolina Wage and Hours Claim Lawyer
Are you a “salaried” manager or supervisor without any actual management responsibilities, but instead, doing the work of hourly employees? Has your employer required you to perform some job responsibilities before you clock in or after you clock out? Are you expected to take work-related calls or attend meetings during lunch breaks or before or after work, without pay?
Sadly, some employers have been known to purposely misclassify certain non-exempt employees (hourly) as exempt (salaried) so they won’t have to pay them overtime.
If you are not getting paid for your work, time, and effort, your employer may be breaking both federal and North Carolina labor laws. And you may have a wage and hour labor law claim.
Get Double Back Pay and More in NC
If you are an employee with a proven minimum wage or overtime claim in North Carolina, you may be eligible for all of your unpaid wages. You may also qualify for additional compensation known as “liquidated damages.” When you qualify for liquidated damages you are allowed to collect double your back pay in minimum wage and overtime because of payment delays. If, for example, your employer withheld $1,500 in wages and overtime pay, you can collect an additional $1,500, for a total of $3,000.
You may also be eligible to have your attorney’s fees and legal costs paid, plus interest on your unpaid wages.
Your Right to Fair Labor and Wages
Wage and hour violations occur when an employer violates the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), also known as the Federal Wage and Hour Law. The FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, hours worked, recordkeeping, youth employment and child labor standards, and more. The FLSA covers all employees of an “enterprise,” which is defined as:
- Having sales or business done of at least $500,000
- A hospital, healthcare business, school (including college and preschools) or federal, state, or local government agency
Even if a company or organization doesn’t meet these definitions, employees may still be covered by the FLSA if their duties meet certain requirements, for example:
- Their work involves interstate commerce
- They are domestic service workers
Companies that meet those requirements must not only follow FLSA guidelines, but also prominently post them in an office location for all employees to see.
Is Your Company Stealing Your Wages?
You may be a victim of wage theft without realizing it. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) defines wage theft as “the failure to pay workers the full wages to which they are legally entitled.”
According to an EPI study, wage theft robs millions of U.S. workers (especially the lowest-paid workers) of billions of dollars each year – $316 million in North Carolina, alone. The EPI found that the low-wage workers in North Carolina who are not receiving minimum wage are losing almost one-third of the wages they are due. This is the third highest average loss among the top 10 states studied.
How Do Businesses Steal Your Wages?
Wage theft can take many forms. And employers have been known to be very creative, so this list is not exhaustive.
Not paying overtime
Overtime hours may include:
- Time suffered or permitted to work, which includes time that is not specifically requested but permitted in order to perform a task.
- Waiting time that is controlled by an employer that an employee cannot use to perform their job duties. For example, an employee is at work “waiting” for a piece of equipment to be repaired before they can continue their job.
- On-call time includes time when an employee is waiting to be engaged in their job function. For example, if a nurse is waiting to see if he is needed, but is required to remain at the hospital until notified.
- Meeting and training time, which is time spent furthering education, such as at a seminar or meeting. This is compensable unless it is voluntary and for the employee’s own purposes, not required by work.
- Travel time, which means time spent traveling between job sites or traveling for the job.
If you are not being paid overtime, or you are not paid time-and-a-half, when you work over 40 hours in a week, then your employer could be in violation of the FLSA and you may have a wage and hour claim.
Many workers claim this is the most common type of theft. This violation occurs when an employer asks you to work off-the-clock before or after your shift – and it sometimes includes travel and training time, if for work-related purposes. If employers allow you to work off-the-clock and anticipate benefiting from your labor, these hours must be counted time worked.
Examples may include putting on required clothing, moving equipment, cleaning up, delivering documents, completing training, or revising paperwork outside of work hours at the request of your employer, and more.
Pay stub and illegal deductions
The North Carolina Department of Labor makes it very clear:
An employer may withhold or divert a portion of an employee’s wages when the employer is required to do so by law or the proposed deduction is known, agreed upon in advance, and a written authorization is made.
As clear as these laws are, not all employers follow them, as these two examples indicate:
- Tipped minimum wage violations. Taking tips from workers or not paying tipped workers the difference between their tips and the legal minimum wage
- Employee misclassification violations. Misclassifying employees as independent contractors to pay a wage lower than the legal minimum
Paying less than minimum wage
Among 10 of the most populous states, 2.4 million workers are paid less than minimum wage in their state. North Carolina is one of them. There were over three million minimum-wage-eligible workers in North Carolina in 2015. And over $300 billion was kept from them.
A tipped employee is anyone who receives more than $30 per month in tips on a regular basis. According to the FLSA, tips are the property of the employees who earn them. Employers are prohibited by law from using employee tips for any reason other than as credit against minimum wage (also known as tip credit).
Tip stealing can be due to lazy bookkeeping or plain greed, according to WorkingInAmerica.org. Some scenarios have included:
- Tips distributed by check – often inaccurate and can be due to bookkeeping errors
- Stealing from the tip jar – a “pool house” where money is to be shared with bartenders, wait staff, and others
- Paying employees with tip money – distributing tips as cash to pay managers, chefs, bands, and others
- Tips on credit cards – passing the entire tab by the credit card company onto wait staff rather than the tip
Employees Most Vulnerable to Wage Theft
The EPI reports previous research that has shown that wage theft disproportionately hurts low-wage workers, often already the most vulnerable segment of the workforce. Wage theft victims are more likely to be women, nonwhite or Hispanic, and to have less education.
Are You a Victim of Wage and Hour Violations? Get a FREE Case Evaluation
Wage and hour disputes are complicated, and bringing a suit against your employer can be intimidating, particularly if they have a team of attorneys on their side. We stand ready to fight for you in your efforts to be paid what you potentially deserve.
You may potentially be eligible for double back pay and to have your attorney’s fees and legal costs paid, plus interest, on your unpaid wages.