Wage & Hour Claims
If you feel that your employer has unfairly failed to pay you wages that you are owed, you should contact Riddle & Brantley to learn your rights. We will be happy to provide a free consultation and advise you if you have a claim that we can help you with.
The most common types of wage claims involve overtime pay. Wage claims in North Carolina are governed by both Federal and State law. The North Carolina Department of Labor’s website: NCLabor.com, describes how these laws can apply on issues like minors being employed in the workplace or employees’ entitlement to rest breaks. But the Department of Labor will generally not advocate for you if you have been denied wages, as detailed in a recent Charlotte Observer article:
If your employer wrongfully refuses to pay you overtime wages, you can be entitled to compensation, including trebled damages and recovery of attorneys fees.
Overtime Pay Rules Set to Change
The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employers in the United States pay “non-exempt” employees overtime for any hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek at a rate of pay at least 150% of their normal pay rate. The Act does not require payment of overtime pay for work on weekends or holidays. Employers are allowed flexibility in determining when an employee’s “workweek” begins, and need not run with the calendar workweek of Sunday through Saturday, but simply needs to run 7 consecutive days. Employers can establish different workweeks for different employees.
The Act only applies to non-exempt “employees” and not to “independent contractors”. Typically, independent contractors are persons with certain skills, who provide their own tools and have considerable control over their work schedule (for example, hiring your neighbor to come fix your roof “sometime next week” would constitute an independent contractor relationship and not an employee/employer relationship).
“Non-exempt” employees generally means employees who are not managers. Employees are allowed to pay managers a salary and not pay them overtime wages for working more than 40 hours in a week. Currently, federal regulations define a manager based on his or her primary duties (for example, a store manager might spend some time on a cash register or stocking shelves, but still remain a manager because his or her most vital duty is overseeing the store). Federal law also provides that to be “exempt,” an employee must make at least $23,660 a year (meaning, even an employee who is a manager is eligible to receive overtime pay if his annual salary is not higher than $23,660).
Recently, the federal Department of Labor has indicated it plans to change the definition of “exempt” employees. The new rules, which are expected to go into effect this year, provide that for an employee to be exempt, it is not enough for their most important function to be managerial; in addition, the majority of their time must be spent on managerial actions. Also, the minimum salary an employee must receive to be able to be designated as exempt is set to be raised to $50,440. The result is that a “manager” of a store who spends 51% of his time stocking shelves and checking out customers will become eligible for overtime on hours worked above 40 per week. And even a manager who spends 100% of his time on management activities will be eligible for overtime if his salary is not higher than $50,440.
The result of the overtime changes will be that thousands of employees will become eligible for overtime pay. Employers that violate the new regulations are subject to suit, and employees who are wronged should consult an attorney to learn their rights.