If your employer failed to pay the wages you earned, the Wayne County wage and overtime lawyers at Sommers Schwartz, P.C., are here to help.

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Wayne County Unpaid Wages & Overtime Attorney

Do you have questions about your paycheck? Does it seem like your employer hasn’t paid you for all the time you’ve put in? Sometimes, mistakes happen. In other cases, employers deliberately underpay or short employee checks, or they enact seemingly innocuous policies that essentially require employees to labor for free. Regardless of the reasons, withholding compensation employees have earned and are entitled to under the law is wage theft. Wage theft is illegal, and it threatens the livelihoods of Michigan workers and their families.

The experienced wage and hour lawyers at Sommers Schwartz have a deep understanding of the tactics employers use to avoid paying their workers. We are well-versed in federal and Michigan employment laws. Our legal team will fight for the rights of hardworking Wayne County employees.

Wage and Hour Violations

Wage theft and overtime violations can affect workers across all industries, from health care to hospitality. According to the Economic Policy Institute, around 130,000 Michigan workers experienced some form of wage theft from 2013 to 2015, with an average underpayment of $2.05 per hour. Over 61 percent of those workers were women. In total, employers improperly withheld an estimated $429 million in wages and overtime pay from workers during that period.

While every Wayne County employee can use the legal system to pursue the compensation they deserve from their employer, the process of filing a lawsuit can be complex. A skilled wage and overtime lawyer will help you navigate the court system, stand up to your employer, and protect you from retaliation for reporting unpaid wages.

If an employer in Wayne County fails to pay you the total wages you are owed in violation of wage and hour laws, our attorneys are ready to protect your rights. We can help you recover the compensation and damages you deserve under the law.

Understanding the Fair Labor Standards Act and Michigan Minimum Wage Laws

Originally passed in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that establishes wage and overtime standards for employees. It gives non-exempt workers the right to be paid minimum hourly wages and overtime. The FLSA also sets recordkeeping rules related to timekeeping and payroll. 

The minimum wage in Michigan is $9.87 per hour as of January 1, 2022, which is higher than the federal rate of $7.25 per hour. Tipped employees must be paid at least $3.75 per hour; their hourly wage, including tips, must average at least $9.87 per hour for each pay period. 

Overtime Pay

Wayne County employers must follow both the FLSA and Michigan labor laws. Non-exempt workers who work over 40 hours per workweek are eligible for overtime pay of at least 1.5 times their regular hourly rate. The 40-hour threshold is measured on a fixed “workweek” basis of seven consecutive 24-hour periods. An employer’s workweek can start on any day and at any time but cannot change from week-to-week.  

Common Wage and Hour Violations

There are many types of wage and hour violations that employers in Wayne County may commit. Wage theft rarely involves a single instance of lost earnings. Instead, it tends to occur over time and involves multiple unlawful actions. There are many ways wage theft can happen in the workplace, including:

  • Paying below minimum wage.
  • Not paying in full for all hours worked.
  • Requiring off-the-clock work without pay.
  • Failing to pay overtime at one-and-a-half times the regular hourly rate.
  • Failing to include bonuses and shift differential pay in the overtime calculation.
  • Confiscating tips.
  • Maintaining improper pay records.
  • Making unlawful paycheck deductions.
  • Misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees.
  • Denying proper meal periods and rest breaks.
  • Withholding wages as a disciplinary action.
  • Failing to reimburse for work-related expenses such as uniform costs.
  • Requiring employees to be “on call” without compensation.

Retaliation Is Unlawful

Under the FLSA and Michigan law, employers are barred from retaliating against workers who affirm their right to be paid fairly under the law. Protected acts may include filing an internal complaint about wage issues, discussing pay with colleagues or management, filing a lawsuit or agency complaint, and many more. 

Retaliation can also take many forms, including but not limited to termination of employees who speak up about unpaid wages. An employer may also engage in less obvious forms of retaliation, including demotion, transfer, assignment to less-desirable shifts, write-ups, discipline, and failure to promote. If a Wayne County wage and overtime lawsuit determines that an employer has engaged in retaliation, the employer will be responsible for compensating the worker for lost wages, back pay, attorney’s fees, and other costs. 

Wage and Hour Laws for Tipped Workers

Wayne County service workers have certain special provisions for wage and overtime pay. Restaurant servers, bartenders, and other workers in the service industry count on tips as a vital part of their earnings. The minimum wage for tipped workers in Michigan is $3.75 (effective January 1, 2022), significantly lower than the regular rate of $9.75 per hour. As a result, many service workers rely on customer gratuities. If they do not receive enough tip money to average $9.75 per hour in a pay period, however, it is the responsibility of their employer to pay the difference.

Tipped employees are eligible to receive overtime for hours worked over 40 in a pay period. They are entitled to at least 1.5 times their regular hourly rate (their base pay before tips). 

As Michigan does not have laws addressing tip pooling and sharing, employers must follow the standards set by the FLSA. Under the FLSA, an employer may require tip pooling, a system in which tips earned by all workers are redistributed based on a set formula. Employees must be notified of this practice, which must be enforced consistently.  Further, managers, supervisors, and owners are prohibited from participating in any tip pools.

Unfortunately, many employees in the service industry do not receive fair pay for their hard work—the pay they are entitled to under the law. If you receive tips as part of your pay, it is essential to know your rights, recognize the signs of wage theft, and understand your employer’s obligations under state and federal wage-and-hour laws. 

Wage Violations and Worker Exploitation

Wage theft and overtime violations can affect all workers, but young employees, temporary workers, and senior workers are especially susceptible to exploitation. Workers between 16 and 17 years old and seasonal workers may be paid as little as 85 percent of the minimum wage under Michigan law. Teens may also legally receive a $4.25 training wage during the first 90 days on the job. Unfortunately, some employers may try to take advantage of young employees by underpaying them. 

Under the law, apprentices, learners, and people with disabilities who cannot fulfill standard production outputs can legally be paid below minimum wage. Temporary workers, seasonal workers, agricultural help, and childcare workers may also slip through the cracks of wage and hour protections. The different wage guidelines mean that some workers may be at a higher risk of wage theft. Although they may be exempt from Michigan minimum wage requirements, they still may be protected by certain provisions. An experienced attorney can help ensure that every worker collects the pay they deserve under the law. 

 Wage and Hour Violations Across Wayne County Industries 

While workers in any job can be susceptible to wage theft, these violations occur more frequently in certain industries. Construction, call centers, landscaping, childcare, janitorial services, beauty services, food services, retail, and home health care have some of the highest rates of wage theft. 

Workers in the food or drink service industry are among the most likely to be exploited. For restaurant workers, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the occurrence and reduced reporting of wage violations. According to a survey conducted by One Fair Wage, nearly 35 percent of tipped workers said their tips and additional wages failed to meet their state’s minimum wage standards in 2021. The labor advocacy group also found that 47 percent of workers reported not being paid overtime.

Some jobs commonly affected by wage theft are:

  • Bartenders and servers at restaurants and hotels.
  • Retail workers.
  • Couriers.
  • Delivery drivers.
  • Nurses and health care staff.
  • Food processing employees.
  • Call center staff.
  • IT workers.
  • Sales representatives.
  • Exotic dancers.
  • Sales representatives.

Standing Up to Large Companies

Wayne County is home to many large employers, including General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Wayne State University, and Henry Ford Health System. When an employer mistreats multiple workers who have experienced similar violations, it may be possible to file a class-action lawsuit. 

Filing a wage-and-hour claim as a class action lawsuit allows workers who each suffered small losses because of illegal corporate policies or practices to join together to pursue litigation as a group. This can be more cost-effective and allow for a quicker settlement than if each worker filed their own lawsuit regarding the same violation.

Big companies are often armed with teams of lawyers. As a result, obtaining a successful outcome requires special skills and in-depth knowledge of labor laws. Sommers Schwartz is experienced in protecting the rights of employees who have suffered due to an employer’s unlawful pay practices. Our wage-and-hour lawyers do not hesitate to take on powerful companies to recover unpaid wages, overtime, and other underpayments.

The attorneys at Sommers Schwartz have the resources and experience needed to win wage-and-hour lawsuits against all types and sizes of employers. Whether a case involves a single plaintiff or thousands of employees, we are confident in our ability to provide quality representation to Wayne County workers.

Contact a Skilled Wayne County Unpaid Wages and Overtime Attorney

The attorneys at Sommers Schwartz, P.C., are dedicated to holding employers responsible for wage-and-hour violations against their workers. To discuss your case with a knowledgeable lawyer and determine your next steps, call 800-783-0989 for a free consultation.

A qualified Wayne County wage and overtime lawyer will guide you through the entire process of taking legal action against your employer. Our legal team will fight to protect your rights and ensure you do not suffer retaliation for speaking out.

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