Do you think you may have been fired by your employer for filing a wage claim? If so, there are a number of federal and state laws that can protect you.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), most employees in the United States have the right to earn at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked, and get paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. However, there are exceptions; for example, the law does not apply to some salaried employees or independent contractors.
In Florida, the FLSA is supplemented by state laws that further protect eligible employees. In Florida, the minimum wage is recalculated each year and at this time exceeds the federal minimum wage. Currently, the Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25 an hour. Effective January 1, 2017, Florida’s minimum wage is $8.10 per hour. The minimum wage in Florida in 2016 was $8.05. Florida employers were obligated as of January 1, 2017 to raise your wage to the newly adjusted minimum wage rate.
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What if Your Employer Commits a Wage or Hours Violation?
If you believe that your employer has violated federal or state wage laws (for example, by failing to pay you the minimum wage or the overtime premium on hours worked over 40, or by withholding pay), you can bring a civil suit against them. To do so, you must do the following:
- Under Florida law, you must notify your employer in writing about your claim, which needs to state that you plan to file a civil suit. You must also include information regarding the wages you were entitled to, the dates and corresponding hours you weren’t paid, and the total amount your employer owes you. This notification is not required under Federal law.
- Under Florida law, your employer must resolve your claim in 15 calendar days, whether that entails paying you the amount owed or agreeing on another amount. Again, the time limits required under Florida law do not apply to the claim under Federal law.
- If your claim is not resolved, you have a number of options. First, you could file an administrative wage claim with the U.S. Department of Labor. Another option is to file a lawsuit in either federal or state court, based on FLSA violations. Finally, you could file a wage claim based on violations of state laws. No matter what you decide, you will have to prove to a judge that you were:
- employed by your employer,
- entitled to the minimum or a particular wage (or overtime premium),
- you were employed on the dates in question,
- worked the hours you are claiming wages are owed, and
- prove that you were not paid by your employer during that period
If you have been terminated, retaliated against, or discriminated against because you filed a wage claim, you are protected under FLSA and Florida law. It can be beneficial to speak with an employment law attorney to determine if your wage complaint was the reason your employer took action against you.
If you feel that you were wrongfully discharged because you filed a wage claim, take the time to speak to an experienced employment law attorney. At Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., we can provide expert advice and help you understand your rights. Please access our free Wrongful Termination: When Firing Is Illegal guide today or call us to schedule your free consultation.