Minimum Wage Violations
Texas employees paid hourly are entitled to receive at least minimum wage for their work; however, employers fail to pay minimum wage to hourly employees more often than you think. Wage law attorneys in Texas represent employees who suffered wage theft due to their employers refusing to pay the required minimum wage or overtime. If you believe your employer failed to pay you the wages you earned, you should talk to Texas wage law attorneys right away.
Minimum wage law in Texas
Texas follows the minimum wage laws established under federal law for non-exempt, hourly employees. The current minimum wage set by the Fair Labor Standards Act is $7.25 per hour for each hour worked up to forty in a workweek. After that, the employee becomes eligible for overtime pay for all additional hours.
In addition to the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Texas Minimum Wage Act, the Texas Payday Law establishes additional rules for paychecks and payment of wages in Texas. Under the Texas Payday Law, employers must provide paystubs identifying wage payments and deductions and issue final paychecks within designated time periods.
Whether employees are entitled to the hourly minimum wage or other forms of payment under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Texas Payday Law does not always have an obvious answer. Some employees are salaried and exempt from minimum wage and overtime pay. Tipped employees can have their wages adjusted by the tips they receive. Certain classes of workers are also exempt from minimum wage, such as lawyers.
Employers may fail to pay minimum wage due to an intentional or unintentional failure to understand whether you are covered by the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. If you believe your employer has not paid minimum wages due, you should speak with a wage law attorney right away.
Minimum wage and wage theft claims in Texas
Your employer may fail to pay minimum wages due to you or otherwise commit wage theft by failing to pay you wages you earned. Whether your employer intended to steal from you does not decide whether your employer stole from you. If you performed the work, you are entitled to the pay. Some examples of minimum wage violations include:
- Your employer failed to include all of the time worked on your timesheet for the week;
- You were required to work off the clock;
- Your employer makes you clock out for breaks of less than 20 minutes;
- You are misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee;
- You are misclassified as an unpaid intern or volunteer;
- Your employer misclassified you as salaried, exempt when you are non-exempt;
- You receive sales commissions but your commissions did not result in minimum wage for all hours worked;
- Your employer improperly applied a tip credit or required you to pay tips under tip pooling or tipping out that resulted in below minimum wage;
- Your employer docked your pay as punishment which resulted in below minimum wage.
There are many other ways your employer may commit wage theft by failing to pay minimum wage. If you believe your employer did not pay minimum wage you earned, you should speak with a Texas wage law attorney right away. Although you have at least two years to recover unpaid wages, waiting to pursue your case may make it more difficult to investigate the claim and get the best result.
Tipped employees and tip credit violations
Tipped employees are particularly vulnerable to minimum wage violations due to the tip credit permitted under Texas and federal law. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Texas Minimum Wage Act, employers may deduct a tip credit from certain employees who receive tips from customers. The tip credit reduces the minimum wage paid by the employer to $2.13 per hour. The tips received in combination with the $2.13 paid by the employer must result in at least minimum wage of $7.25. If the employee does not receive the full minimum wage, then the employer must make up the difference.
While this seems simple, employers find many ways to commit wage theft involving tip credits. These include:
- Taking a tip credit from employees ineligible to suffer the tip credit under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Texas Minimum Wage Act;
- Requiring tip pooling that reduces the wage received below minimum wage;
- Including ineligible workers and supervisors in mandatory tip pools;
- Requiring an unreasonably large amount of tips in a mandatory tip pool;
- Requiring tipped employees to pay for breakage, uniforms, or personal supplies when it results in less than minimum wage;
- Taking the tip credit against hours worked performing non-tip producing work;
- Shaving time off your timesheet for time you are required to be at work but not involved in tip-producing work.
If you believe your employer is not paying minimum wage or is taking advantage of tip pooling, you should speak with a wage law attorney in Texas.
Many employers love the idea of unpaid interns, because they see it as unpaid labor. However, a person does not qualify as an unpaid intern just because they receive the title “intern”. The FLSA and Texas Payday Law look at six factors to determine whether a person is an intern or an employee. Two key factors often prove an unpaid intern is really an unpaid employee.
First, the intern must be in a training environment similar to an educational environment. That may mean that the internship is in conjunction with an educational program (such as for college credit) and the person receives training in the workplace rather than just doing the work of any other employee.
Second, if the “intern” is a substitute for the employer hiring paid employees, the person is an employee, not an intern. If the “intern” is performing regular work for the benefit of the employer and the employer, without the “intern”, would have to pay somebody to do the same work then the person is an employee and not an unpaid intern. In short, if the person works like any other employee, he or she is probably an employee.
Unpaid internship claims
An improperly classified intern is due minimum wage, overtime pay and potentially benefits. Unpaid internships are popular with employers who, due to the labor market, try to get away with test driving employees for free by calling them interns. When employers hire employees as unpaid interns, the employer can suffer lawsuits to recover wages owed and other relief. These claims require proving the unpaid intern is really an employee, which is not always an easy task.
Unauthorized paycheck deductions
Under the Texas Payday Law, generally you must authorize payroll deductions in writing aside from tax withholdings, court-ordered garnishments and other deductions authorized by law. Any unauthorized payroll deduction violates the Texas Payday Law and may also violate the Fair Labor Standards Act if the unauthorized deduction reduces your income below minimum wage.
Schedule a consultation with a Texas wage law attorney
If you believe your employer has not paid minimum wage you should receive, you should schedule a consultation with a Texas wage law attorney near you. Minimum wage violations often involve other wage law violations so your case may be bigger than you are aware. Your attorney can review your case and assess your options to pursue recovery of unpaid wages.