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Michigan Minimum Wage Violation Attorney

The federal government, as well as all 50 states, established minimum wage requirements to ensure that American workers are paid a fair amount for their hard work. Whether the current minimum wage is high enough to be fair is subject to debate. But what is not in dispute is the obligation of employers to pay employees at least the amount required by law. When companies pay workers less than the minimum wage or engage in deceptive practices that reduce take-home pay below what the law mandates, they can and should be held accountable.

The Michigan employment lawyers at Sommers Schwartz passionately believe in the value of hard work. Our attorneys share a commitment to ensure workers receive every penny they earn and are entitled to under the law. We aggressively pursue claims against employers who shortchange their employees, getting our clients the back wages they earned and the additional compensation and justice they deserve.

What Is the Minimum Wage?

The national minimum wage established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is $7.25 per hour. That amount has remained the same since 2009. But states can set their own minimum wages, which are often higher than the federal minimum. That is the case in Michigan, where the minimum wage for non-tipped employees is $9.65 per hour as of January 1, 2020. When a state minimum, like Michigan’s, is higher than the federal rate, employers must pay their workers the higher wage.

Unlike the federal minimum wage, Michigan’s minimum wage increases on a regular basis. It was $9.45 per hour in 2019 and will rise to $9.87 in 2021, and will continue to increase after that incrementally. While cities and local governments in many other states can set their minimum wages higher than their state’s rate, Michigan law does not allow for such action, meaning the minimum wage is uniform throughout the state.

Who Must Pay – and Be Paid – the Minimum Wage?

Only companies that have an annual gross volume of sales or business of at least $500,000 must pay their employees the federal minimum wage under the FLSA. However, almost every employer in Michigan must pay their workers the state minimum wage, as the law applies to any employer who employs two or more employees over the age of 16 at the same time within a calendar year.

There are several exceptions to the minimum wage requirement under the FLSA, and these exceptions have largely been adopted by Michigan as well. Under the FLSA, employers may pay sub-minimum wage, subject to certain requirements, to the following workers:

  • Employees under the age of 18 (85 percent of the minimum wage).
  • Disabled workers.
  • Trainees.
  • Apprentices.
  • New employees 18 or 19 years of age (they can be paid a training wage of $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of their employment).
  • Employees under 16 years of age.
  • Temporary summer camp employees.
  • Certain employees in the agriculture and farming industry.

Minimum Wage Issues for Tipped Workers

The minimum wage laws are different for those workers who rely on tips for a substantial portion of their income. Generally, employers can pay tipped employees less than the state minimum wage provided the employee makes at least the hourly minimum wage after factoring in their tips. The minimum wage for tipped workers in Michigan is 38 percent of the standard minimum wage, or $3.67 per hour. Thus, as the minimum wage increases, so too will the minimum wage for tipped employees.

An employer can only pay a non-exempt worker the minimum wage for tipped employees if each of the following is true:

  • The employee receives tips as a regular part of their employment.
  • The tips are equal to or greater than the difference between the tipped minimum wage and the standard minimum wage.
  • The employer includes the tips on the employee’s declaration for federal insurance contribution act purposes.
  • The employer notifies the employee of the rules governing tipped employees.

Minimum Wage Violations: What Employees Can Do

Despite the explicit requirements of minimum wage laws, too many employers engage in “wage theft” and pay their workers less than required. According to the Economic Policy Institute, workers suffering minimum wage violations are underpaid an average of $64 per week, almost one-quarter of their weekly earnings. This means that a victim of wage theft loses, on average, $3,300 per year.

Workers may not realize that their employer is cheating them out of the pay they deserve. This is especially true for tipped workers. But employees who suspect that their employer is stealing their wages by paying less than the minimum wage have rights. They also have allies and advocates at Sommers Schwartz.

If you believe your employer is violating your right to receive the minimum wage for your hard work, we invite you to contact us for a free initial consultation. We can help you determine whether you have a claim for back wages, compensation, or other relief, and will pursue any such claim with determination and commitment.

To learn more, and to speak with a Sommers Schwartz employment law attorney about your situation, please call 866-826-1793.

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