What laws provide rights to minimum wages and overtime compensation?
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act sets the federal minimum wage and provides nonexempt employees with the right to overtime compensation. The Florida Constitution likewise requires the payment of a minimum wage.
What is the minimum wage?
Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour (or $2.13 per hour plus tips). The Florida Constitution provides for a higher minimum wage, currently set at $8.25 per hour (or $5.23 plus tips).
What is overtime compensation?
Nonexempt employees are entitled under the Fair Labor Standards Act to receive one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of forty per work week.
What is an exempt employee?
The Fair Labor Standards Act provides that employees receiving certain types of compensation and performing certain types of job duties are not entitled to receive overtime compensation. Included among these exempt categories are certain executive, administrative and professional employees, as well as certain outside salespersons, commissioned retail salespersons and motor carriers.
Are employees required to first go to the Department of Labor if they wish to make a claim for unpaid wages or overtime compensation?
No. Unlike discrimination claims (which must typically be filed first with a government agency), wage recovery claims have no administrative prerequisite. While the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division does have the power to investigate claims, an employee may go directly to court without first consulting the agency.
What damages are employees entitled to in a claim for unpaid wages or overtime compensation?
In addition to the unpaid minimum wages or overtime compensation, an employee can seek liquidated (double) damages, and is entitled to recover attorney’s fees if he or she prevails.
Can an employer retaliate against an employee for seeking unpaid minimum wages or overtime compensation?
No. The Fair Labor Standards Act and Florida Minimum Wage Amendment both prohibit retaliation against employees who assert their rights.
What if the employee does not have any record of the number of his or her hours worked?
It is the employer’s, not the employee’s, burden to keep accurate time records. If an employer fails to do so, employees can nonetheless bring a claim for unpaid minimum wages and overtime hours based upon reasonable estimates of their hours worked.
Are independent contractors entitled to minimum wages and overtime compensation?
True independent contractors are not entitled to minimum wages and overtime compensation. However, many workers are misclassified and are, in fact, employees rather than independent contractors. In determining under which category a worker falls, the nature of the relationship is more important than the intent, understanding or agreement of the parties.
What other types of unpaid wage claims can be brought?
An employee may bring an action to recover unpaid wages for any uncompensated hours worked, even if minimum wages and overtime compensation are not involved.