Meal and Rest Breaks:
According to Owed Unpaid Wages, rest periods of 20 minutes or less each day are generally considered “hours worked” for which employees should be compensated. If employers opt not to pay non‑exempt employees for meal breaks, those workers must be given an unpaid meal break of at least 30 minutes. During unpaid meal breaks, employees must be completely relieved of job duties and tasks. It’s a federal and state law for employers to interrupt employees during breaks or force employees to work through breaks.
Particularly Susceptible Jobs: non-exempt workers in retail, call center, service, and health care positions.
“Off the Clock” Work
This refers to when employees are required to perform job-related tasks without pay before or after their work shifts, or during a break. According to Owed Unpaid Wages, off the clock work may look like:
- Being forced to respond to email and voicemail messages or initiate lengthy computer boot-up procedures before starting your shifts
- Having to record daily notes or log-out of networks, systems, and applications after a shift has ended
- Being asked to work through unpaid meal or rest breaks
- Having to launder uniforms, tend to work equipment, or do extra work at home
- Not getting paid for required travel time, such as to a worksite, customer office, or meeting location.
- Not being compensated for mandatory training
Particularly Susceptible Jobs: this form of wage theft is the most common – and happens frequently across multiple industries!
Tip Sharing Violations
Do you depend on gratuities for a major portion of your income? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the tips are deemed to be the employee’s property and an employer may not use tips except:
- To take a “tip credit” to offset any minimum wage obligation it owes to the employee. The tip credit is equal to the difference between the required cash wage of at least $2.13 and the prevailing federal minimum wage
- As part of a permissible “tip pool” sharing arrangement between workers who customarily and regularly receive tips, but expressly excluding non-tipped co-workers.
When a worker is employed in dual tipped and non-tipped roles, the tip credit applies only to time spent performing the tipped portion of the job. The employer may take a tip credit for time spent on tasks that don’t usually produce tips. However, where the tipped worker spends more than 20 percent of the workweek on those non-tipped duties, no tip credit may be taken.
Wage abuse to tipped employees occurs when:
- The employee does not receive sufficient tips to make up the difference between the cash wage and the minimum wage
- An employee receives tips only and receives no cash wage to meet the minimum wage obligation
- The employer deducts costs and expenses such as walk-outs, breakage, or cash register shortages that push the employee’s wages below the minimum wage
- A tipped employee is required to contribute to a tip pool that includes employees who do not customarily and regularly receive tips, but isn’t paid all tips he or she added to the pool as well as the full minimum wage
- The employer takes a larger tip credit for overtime hours than for straight time
- The employer fails to pay overtime based on the regular hourly rate, including all service charges, commissions, bonuses, etc.
Particularly Susceptible Jobs: Waiters, waitresses, bartenders, bellhops.
Donning & Doffing Time
This refers to putting on and taking off protective clothing or equipment required for your job. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that time spent “changing clothes or washing at the beginning or end of each workday” is not compensable, but there are notable exceptions associated with donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) protective clothing and gear. For example, if protective equipment worn by employees is “required by law, by the employer, or due to the nature of the job,” it is not considered clothing and the time spent putting it on and taking it off should be included in the employee’s work hours. If donning and doffing pushes your work week above 40 hours, you’re entitled to overtime pay.
Particularly Susceptible Jobs: Meat and poultry processing facilities, Chemical plants, Law enforcement.
Keep in mind that these are just four of the most common types of age theft, there are many other ways that your employer could be stealing from you. And while we have included some of the jobs where each type of wage theft most frequently happens, remember that wage theft can happen in any industry, in any role, at any level! If you think your employer owes you money, it’s time to act! Call 225-343-2205 or send us a message online.
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