Labor & Employment Law
Wage and Hour Disputes – Unpaid Wages
Sass Law Firm represents employees in wage and hour disputes with their employers. There are several federal laws and Florida statutes, as well as city and county ordinances that require many employers to pay their employees at least minimum wage and overtime compensation. Employees work hard for their pay so it is important to make sure employers are paying you properly.
What is the Florida minimum wage?
As of 2021, the Florida minimum wage is $8.65 per hour. However, the Florida minimum wage is expected to increase in increments to $15.00 per hour by 2026.
Federal and Florida law require employers to pay employees at least the state or federal minimum wage, whichever is greater. This applies to full-time and part-time employees, but not independent contractors. Since 2005, the minimum wage in Florida has steadily increased each year as determined by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. There is a federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, but because Florida’s minimum wage is higher, employers are required to follow Florida law.
When am I entitled to overtime?
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, also knowns as the FLSA, governs the payment of minimum wage and overtime compensation for employees. The FLSA provides that covered employers pay employees the minimum wage and overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek, unless the employer claims an exemption from paying the minimum wage or overtime.
The FLSA recognizes five main exemptions and it is generally based on the employee’s job duties as well as how much and how the employer pays the employee. Employees subject to an exemption are often referred to as “exempt” employees. Hourly employees or those that do not fall into any exemption must be paid at least minimum wage and overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek and are called “non-exempt” employees.
Am I exempt from overtime pay?
Federal law exempts employees from overtime pay (and sometimes even the minimum wage) if the employee meets a two-part test:
- The employee is paid a salary of not less than $684 per workweek (or $35,568 annually); and
- The employee primarily performs specific job duties required by the exemption being claimed.
The FLSA provides for five main categories of exempt employees:
- Computer; or
- Outside sales.
Each of these exemptions have specific primary job duties the employee must perform (in addition to their salary) in order to qualify for the exemption. Your job title alone does not control whether you are exempt—it is the job duties you actually perform. This is also true of job descriptions—these will not control if they are not duties that you perform in your job.
There are other exemptions as well that may limit or exclude you from being paid overtime or even the minimum wage.
If you are properly classified as exempt, your employer is not required to pay you overtime (or sometimes even the minimum wage). Also, if your employer pays you hourly, then you are not exempt and you are entitled to overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
Employers frequently misclassify employees and fail to properly pay them as required by law. It is very important to find out if you are a “non-exempt” or an “exempt” employee to determine if you are owed wages from your employer. If you are misclassified as exempt, you are still entitled to minimum wage and/or overtime.
What are my damages for unpaid minimum wage or overtime?
When an employer owes an employee for overtime worked or unpaid minimum wages, the FLSA allows employees to recover the following damages:
- The overtime pay or minimum wages owed going back two years from when the case is filed in court (or going back three years if the employer’s violation is willful);
- An additional amount equal to the overtime pay or minimum wages owed (these are often called “liquidated damages”); and
- Reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.
In essence, you can recover twice the amount you are owed. As an example, if you are owed $5,000 in overtime pay, your damages are doubled to a total of $10,000, plus your reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.
Can an employer retaliate against an employee for seeking unpaid minimum wage or overtime pay?
No. An employer may not discriminate or retaliate against an employee who complains about unpaid overtime wages or minimum wages to their employer or to the U.S. Department of Labor. The FLSA also prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who participates in any DOL investigation about owed overtime or minimum wage.
Is there a deadline to file an overtime or minimum wage lawsuit?
Yes. Federal law requires you to file a lawsuit to recover your unpaid minimum wage and overtime pay within two years (or three years if the violation is willful). This means that once you file the lawsuit, you can recover back two years (or three years for willful violations) from the date you filed in court. These deadlines are called the “statute of limitations.” Thus, if you have earned overtime beyond the two years from when the lawsuit is filed, you may be unable to collect those earnings. If your employer owes you minimum wage or overtime pay, do not delay. Talk to experienced employment attorneys who can evaluate and fight for your rights.
The attorneys at Sass Law Firm are zealous advocates for our clients in recovering owed overtime pay and minimum wage. We seek to hold employers accountable under the law to ensure that all employees get what they earn!
Sass Law Firm – Employee Rights Attorneys
Unpaid Wages / Wage and Hour Disputes