Most people are happy to do their jobs and be the best employee they can. But they might be having their employment rights violated without even knowing it.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees are entitled to certain rights. It’s the responsibility of the employer to comply with those rights and treat employees fairly.
Very often, however, employers fail to comply. It may be unintentional, due to the employer simply not knowing the law, or it may be intentional.
Either way, it’s important for you, as an employee, to know your rights and know when they’re being violated. That can be tricky, because the law can be complicated.
To help you, here are five examples of unfair employment practices that violate your rights to fair employment:
You’re misclassified as ‘Exempt’
Any company has two basic types of employees.
“Exempt” employees are paid on a salary basis, and do not receive (or are “exempt” from) overtime pay. Exempt employees are typically in executive, management or administrative positions.
“Nonexempt” employees are paid on an hourly basis and are entitled to overtime pay for more than 40 hours per week. Nonexempt employees are usually involved in production work or other labor.
The problem arises when an employer classifies an employee as exempt, but he or she continues to perform nonexempt duties. A simple example would be a grocery store manager working as a cashier.
Whether the employer meant to or not, this practice skirts the overtime pay rules, and is a violation.
You’re getting certain costs deducted from your paycheck
Under the FLSA, employers are not allowed to deduct employment costs from your paycheck. These are costs that are inherent to your job, not of any benefit to you personally.
One example of these costs is uniforms. The cost of uniforms is something your employer must bear, not you.
If you are seeing strange costs deducted from your pay — not healthcare premiums or other benefits — this is a violation.
You’re being compensated with comp time instead of overtime
One practice we’ve seen is employers trying to minimize the amount of overtime pay they give to employees who are entitled to it. Sometimes they can get creative.
One of the ways they can do this is by offering “comp time,” or additional paid vacation time, in lieu of overtime pay.
This may seem like a good deal to you as an employee. Extra time off is always nice. But if you work overtime (more than 40 hours per week), you’re entitled to overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times your hourly rate.
Paying overtime with comp time cheats employees out of pay they’ve earned.
You have a fluctuating work week
Another creative way employers try to get around overtime rules is through a fluctuating work week. The amount of time you work each week varies, but averages out to be 40 hours.
For example, say your employer requires you to work 30 hours one week, and 50 hours the next. That’s a total of 80 hours, for an average of 40 hours per week, so they don’t pay you overtime.
But you should have been paid overtime for the 10 extra hours you worked in the second week. Every week is a separate period, and any time above 40 hours is subject to overtime.
Your employer isn’t documenting your time
This might be the most important thing to understand.
Your employer must provide a means to track and document time and duties performed for nonexempt employees, usually in the form of an electronic time clock or computerized timesheets. And they must keep those records.
Without that documentation, it’s very difficult for you to prove that your rights were violated. Use the above example of the fluctuating work week above. If that time isn’t documented, you could not prove that you were entitled to overtime.
It’s crucial to be sure your time is being documented, even if you believe your employer is treating you fairly.
If you believe your employment rights are being violated in any of the above ways, contact us for a free consultation. We’ll let you know what your options are.