Farmington Hills Unpaid Wages and Overtime Lawyers
Employment in Farmington Hills continues to grow as people move to the area, change jobs, become old enough to enter the workforce, or pick up work after retirement. Farmington Hills workers of every age, industry, and background deserve to be paid fairly.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Michigan Workforce Opportunity Wage Act set requirements for employers to calculate workers’ hours, pay wages, and pay overtime. However, employers don’t always comply with the law. Sometimes these violations are honest mistakes; in other cases, they are deliberate decisions by an employer to reduce costs by withholding wages.
If you suspect you haven’t been paid everything you have earned for your work, talk to the experienced Farmington Hills unpaid wage and overtime attorneys at Sommers Schwartz, P.C. We’re dedicated to helping our clients secure the money they earned from their hard work.
Michigan Wage and Overtime Laws Summarized
Several state and federal laws govern workers’ pay. These laws set the minimum wage rates and describe how to calculate employee hours worked and handle overtime.
Michigan’s Workforce Opportunity Wage Act sets rules for calculating overtime pay. All non-exempt employees must be paid at least 1.5 times their regular pay rate for hours over 40 each week.
To pay workers correctly for their regular time and overtime, employers must use a system that accurately calculates the time employees spend on the job. While most Michigan employers have a timesheet, clock, or timekeeping system to track employees’ work time, some employers still shortchange or improperly underpay their employees.
For instance, Michigan law states if employers provide unpaid meal breaks, the employer cannot allow employees to work during that break. An unpaid meal break belongs entirely to the employee. The break must be paid if the employer assigns them any work during that time. However, sometimes an employer expects employees to clock out for a meal and still perform job duties (such as monitoring the phones or supervising another employee).
Some jobs and industries fall under exceptions to the Workforce Opportunity Wage Act. For example, overtime for firefighters, police officers, and prison personnel may be calculated differently under other Michigan law provisions.
Federal Wage and Hour Rules
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act also sets rules for calculating wages and paying overtime. Michigan law and the FLSA are similar in some ways. For instance, Michigan law and the FLSA both require employers to pay at least 1.5 times an employee’s usual wage for “overtime.” Both laws also define overtime as time worked above 40 hours in a workweek.
However, Michigan law differs from the FLSA in some ways. For example, the FLSA applies only to employers with a gross income of $500,000 or more annually, regardless of how many employees it has. Michigan’s law applies to every employer with more than two employees, regardless of a business’s income. In addition, Michigan’s minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage.
The Fair Labor Standards Act does not require an employee to work for a certain length of time before being covered by the law. Employees are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act from the start of their employment.
Exempt Employees, Independent Contractors, and Worker Misclassification
Overtime is easy to calculate when an employee earns a straight hourly wage. For instance, an employee who receives $30 per hour for their regular work can multiply 30 by 1.5 to calculate that they should receive $45 for each hour of overtime. But what happens when an employee receives an annual salary instead of an hourly rate?
Michigan wage and overtime law also provides overtime pay to certain salaried employees. These employees can divide their weekly salary by 40 to determine their hourly rate, then multiply by 1.5 to get their minimum overtime rate.
Overtime rules apply only to salaried employees if they are “non-exempt “– that is, they are not subject to an exemption from the normal wage and hour rules. “Exempt” employees don’t fall under state or federal overtime rules.
To be correctly classified as exempt, an employee must meet multiple criteria. They must earn a certain amount of salaried pay and meet specific job requirements. Some employers accidentally or intentionally classify all salaried employees as exempt. When this happens, employees who should be “non-exempt” don’t receive overtime, even though they have a legal right to it.
Workers who are independent contractors rather than employees aren’t entitled to overtime pay or many other benefits guaranteed by law to employees. Employers may misclassify workers as “independent contractors” to avoid paying taxes, benefits, or overtime. An employer’s legal responsibilities to an independent contractor are different from those it owes an employee; it is often to the employer’s benefit to claim its workers are contractors rather than employees.
Determining if a worker should be classified as an independent contractor or an employee can be difficult. Courts typically look at factors indicating whether the employer or employee has more control over the means and manner of their work. These include where the person works, who controls the tools and other items they use during the job, and who decides how they manage the time they use to do the job. The more control the employer has over factors like these, the more likely the worker should be classified as an employee and entitled to employment-related benefits such as overtime pay and worker’s compensation coverage.
Why You Should Work With an Experienced Farmington Hills Employment Law Attorney
If you suspect you’re not being paid fully for your work, talk to an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible. Wage theft is the most valuable, pervasive form of theft in the United States. Workers whose employers have wrongfully withheld wages and overtime pay have legal rights, but they must promptly act to protect those rights.
Time Limits for Unpaid Wage and Overtime Claims
Both Michigan and federal wage and overtime claims have time limits. Under Michigan law, employees can collect unpaid overtime for up to three years from the date the pay was earned. Under FLSA, most workers are limited to collecting unpaid overtime for only two years after the date they earned their pay. In a federal claim, a worker can only extend the time to three years by showing the employer intentionally or recklessly violated federal overtime laws.
Protection From Retaliation for Filing a Wage or Overtime Claim
Challenging your employer can be daunting. You may be afraid to “make waves” or fear your employer will demote you, dock your pay, downgrade your responsibilities, or outright fire you. Many Michigan workers prefer to suffer the loss of wages and overtime pay rather than risk their livelihoods by speaking up or filing a claim.
You don’t have to let your employer get away with wage theft. Both Michigan and federal law prohibit employers from retaliating if an employee asserts their rights to recover their unpaid wages or overtime pay. An employer may not retaliate if an employee talks to an employment law attorney or assists another worker in a wage claim.
Retaliation can take many forms. For instance, an employer may engage in retaliation if it:
- Assigns you less desirable tasks, puts you on a less desirable schedule, or sends you to a less desirable office or worksite.
- Reverses its decision to give you a promotion or takes away a promotion you’ve already received.
- Demotes you to a lesser role.
- Reduces your hours or pay.
- Lays off or fires you.
- Engages in harassment or other actions intended to intimidate or punish you for seeking the pay you believe you are owed.
If an employer retaliates against you, you may be able to bring a separate, additional claim for compensation in addition to your claim for unpaid wages or overtime. If you fear you might face retaliation or suspect your employer is already retaliating against you, talk to an experienced Farmington Hills employment law attorney right away.
Proving you have been improperly classified as an exempt employee or an independent contractor can also be challenging. The experienced wage and overtime attorneys at Sommers Schwartz, P.C. can help determine whether you’ve been classified improperly and fight for the pay you deserve. To learn more, contact us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.