Articles Posted in Wage and Hour

During the holiday season around my college campus, there was “common knowledge” that one of the biggest benefits of working retail on holidays like Black Friday was that you’d be entitled to time and a half solely because you worked on that day. Cut to becoming an employment lawyer and it’s time to debunk that myth. There are a few things that factor into working during the holiday season, which traditionally kicks off with Thanksgiving and more importantly, Black Friday. The first is whether a non-exempt employee can be forced to work on a holiday, then whether there are any additional benefits to working on a holiday that may make it worth it, and finally whether an exempt employee has access to these same considerations.

For starters, when I use the phrase “non-exempt” and “exempt” I am referring to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) denotation for employees who are entitled to overtime (and therefore “non-exempt”) and employees who are not entitled to overtime (and therefore “exempt.”) We are going to focus on non-exempt employees because that’s where the myth of extra pay originates. Turning to whether non-exempt employees can be required to work on a holiday like Thanksgiving or a federally recognized holiday, the short answer is: unfortunately, yes. The FLSA does not require employers to give employees days off even on a federally recognized holiday. Individual employers, of course, can decide to have truncated days or allow employees to request those days off, but there is no law requiring them to do so. There are a few exceptions to that rule, and they mostly involve employees that are allowed to have days off because of a different allowance like observing a religious holiday or where there is a collective bargaining agreement (union contract with employer) that allows those days off. Without an exception, the non-exempt employees are at the mercy of their employers. (There’s also that meme that says requests for days off are simply polite notices of non-attendance, but I would not recommend that strategy.)

Next, we turn to the myth that started it all: employees get paid extra to work on holidays. This myth is both true and false like all good myths. The true part is that if working on Black Friday pushes non-exempt employees over the 40-hour threshold, employers are then required to pay time and a half like any regular overtime. The false part is that there is no requirement under the FLSA that says employers must pay workers time and a half simply for working on a holiday if those hours do not count for over 40 hours. Therefore, it can be beneficial for employees to work on holidays because the hours are longer and more likely to net overtime pay, but there is no benefit just by working on a holiday. 

FFAD29BD-DCBE-46B6-9955-05B9B7DCBA83-200x300Have you heard it’s “taboo” to talk about your salary? Us too. Well, that is out the window now. Welcome to the era of salary transparency. Yes, we know it can be awkward to talk about salary, but with new laws on the horizon, it may be a little easier to figure out how much your co-workers are getting paid. 

 Recently, the New York City Council passed a law requiring employers in New York City with four or more employees to list the minimum and maximum salary on all job posting including ads, promotions, and transfer opportunities. This law applies to any position that can or will be performed, in whole or in part, in New York City. This affects remote listings, meaning any job that could conceivably be done in New York City must follow this. 

 So why did the New York City Council deem this necessary? They passed this law to try and fight against big pay gaps, specifically between genders as well as between majority and minority racial groups. Let’s be honest, pay matters. It affects where you work and how long you decide to stay there.  

Austin Campbell

Austin Campbell

Wage theft—when employers fail to pay their employees the amounts they are legally required to for the work their employees perform—is by some estimates more common than all forms of robbery combined. Ross Eisenbrey, Wage Theft Is a Bigger Problem than Other Theft – But Not Enough Is Done to Protect Workers, Econ. Pol’y Inst. (Apr. 2, 2014), available at http://www.epi.org/publication/wage-theft-bigger-problem-theft-protect [https://perma.cc/E6FY-F992]. A significant part of that is unpaid overtime in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

Given the magnitude of the problem and the limited resources of the U.S. Department of Labor, the burden is often on you as the employee to sue and prove that you are owed overtime pay, as well as how much you are owed. The FLSA requires employers to keep records of employees’ wages and hours, but does not allow an employee to sue employer just for failing to keep proper records. Thus, often—especially in situations where your employer is illegally treating you as a salaried employee to avoid paying you overtime altogether—you can have a hard time even figuring out what you are actually owed.

deontae-wherryThe restaurant industry is known for stealing hard-earned tips from its employees. This practice has been going on for years, yet it continues to be a paramount issue in the industry. As a restaurant employee, you may have asked yourself the following question because you have seen it done time and time again: Can my manager take my tip? Am I obligated to pay for a walked tab? Do I have to share my tip with cooks? The answer to all of these questions is likely no.

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fadi-yousefCan my employer tell me not to discuss my salary with coworkers?

The answer to this question is no. Federal labor laws prohibit employers from restraining, interfering with, or coercing employees who collectively participate in activities related to the terms and conditions of their employment. Those Terms and conditions cover a broad range of topics, like employees discussing wages, hourly rates, salaries, bonuses, commissions, and any other form of payment. For that reason, an employer cannot tell its employees not to discuss their pay amongst themselves. Otherwise, that would be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). And it does not matter if the employer has a union. Both unionized and non-unionized employees are protected.

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The time a Texas employer has to pay their employees their final paycheck depends on the circumstances surrounding the employee’s separation. There is no federal employment law that mandates an employer provide their employee with their last paycheck immediately; however, the Texas Payday Law provides employers with specific requirements.

Texas Payday Law governs all Texas businesses regardless of their size, excluding employers at the federal, state, and political subdivision level. Anyone who performs a service for compensation is an employee, except independent contractors and close relatives of the employer. Typically, unless there is a written agreement, employers must pay their employees in United States currency and deliver them their funds directly during working hours or through direct deposit. Employees have 180 days from the date their wages were due to file a claim for unpaid wages with the Texas Workforce Commission.

When an employee quits or is constructively discharged from their employment, the employer must pay him or her their final wage by the next regular payday. In instances where an employee receives paychecks on a monthly cycle, they must wait until the next month’s due date to obtain their final wage. If an employer terminated an employee, either by firing or laying them off, the employer must pay the employee within six days of their discharge.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes specific standards for part-time and full-time employment. The FLSA applies to private, state, and local, and federal government employees in Texas. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, this federal act covers minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, and record keeping.

Although the FLSA covers some critical employment issues, unfortunately, several employment practices are not included. Generally, under Texas law, employers are not required to provide pension plans to their employers. Further, Texas employers do not need to give raises unless there has been an increase in the minimum wage. The FLSA also does not require employers to pay their employees extra pay for holidays or weekends. Similarly, employers do not have to pay shift differentials; meaning employers do not have to provide extra compensation for undesirable shifts.

Employee Breaks Under the FLSA

In today’s society, more people realize the value in maintaining a manageable work-life balance. And with healthcare costs continually on the rise, now more than ever prospective employees are looking beyond a position’s salary when seeking employment. Because of this, employers realize they must provide a comprehensive and attractive benefits package to recruit and retain quality employees.

A major issue for many employees is an employer’s policy for personal time off (PTO). Paid time off, or personal time off, is generally accrued as an employee works. While employers often allow employees to use PTO for the year before they actually accrue it (to avoid everyone using their PTO at the end of the year) many employees accrue more PTO than they use. This often results in an employee having a surplus of PTO.

When it comes time to leave a job, many employees wonder whether they must be paid out for their remaining unused PTO. Given that many employees carry large balances of PTO, the payout an employee receives upon their termination can be considerable. Employers may try to limit the amount of PTO they pay an employee upon termination; however, this is not always allowed.

As we have noted in previous blog posts, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (the “Act”) is a federal law that guarantees Texas employees certain workplace rights. Among those are the right to be paid at or above the federal hourly minimum wage and the right to collect overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 per week. While the FLSA governs most jobs in the United States, some employees are excluded from the Act’s overtime rules. These employees are referred to as “exempt” employees.

Determining whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt under the FLSA can be tricky, and may depend on how much an employee is paid, how they are paid, and what type of work they perform. As a general rule, to be considered exempt, an employee must meet each of the following three criteria:

  • the employee is paid at least $23,600 per year ($455 per week);

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes employment standards that impact individuals employed in state, federal, and local government. The FLSA covers minimum wage, overtime pay, and record-keeping requirements.

The FLSA requires non-exempt employees to receive overtime pay if they work over forty hours. The rate must be at 150 percent of the employee’s regular rate of pay. Notably, this overtime rate does not apply to employees who work on holidays or weekends, unless they work over 40 hours. However, there are some exceptions to this.

Retail Exemption under the FLSA

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