When you work, you expect to be justly compensated for your work. However, some employers feel they can get away with not paying you what you deserve to be paid, giving rise to an unpaid wages claim in Florida.
If you believe your employer owes you unpaid wages, an employment attorney can help you. You may be eligible to receive your back wages, damages, and attorney’s fees.
Do I Have an Unpaid Wage Claim?
If you perform unpaid work or are not paid at least the state minimum wage, you may have an unpaid Florida wage claim.
Unpaid wage claims arise for several reasons, but regardless of the reason, you may have a valid claim if you have not received adequate pay for your work.
In Florida, federal and state laws dictate how much employees should make. If your employer fails to pay you what you are owed or does not pay you on time, you could file an unpaid wage claim to recover your pay and even additional penalties to punish your employer.
Examples of Unpaid Wage Violations
There are several examples of unpaid wage violations, and some of the most common types are listed here.
By law, employers must pay their employees at least the minimum wage for where they are located. The federal minimum wage is $7.25, but Florida has a higher minimum wage of $10 an hour.
Employees who receive tips while working, such as servers, are legally entitled to receive less than minimum wage. However, these employees must make enough tips to cover the difference and bring their total hourly earnings to at least minimum wage.
In Florida, employers can pay tipped employees $6.98 if they make at least $3.02 in tips per hour. If they do not, the employer must pay the employee the difference.
Under Florida law, employers have 15 days after receiving a written notice to pay their employees for unpaid wages if an employee is not receiving minimum wage. If they fail to do so, the employee is entitled to bring a civil action in court for unpaid wages in Florida and other damages and attorney’s fees.
When you work overtime, you are entitled to receive extra pay for the hours worked. Florida does not have its own overtime law, so it follows federal law. Under federal law, employees who work more than 40 hours a week may receive overtime pay.
When you work overtime, your employer must pay time-and-a-half for the extra hours. So if your regular hourly wage is $10 an hour and you work an additional five hours, your employee would have to pay you an extra $75 because you would be making $15 an hour for those five hours.
It is worth noting, however, that not all employees can receive overtime pay. For example, outside salespeople and several categories of salaried employees, such as professionals and administrative employees, are not eligible for overtime pay.
Breaks and Time Off
Under federal and Florida law, there is no requirement for lunch or other breaks. However, if your employer does elect to give you a break that lasts from 5 to 20 minutes, they must pay you for this time.
Additionally, employers must pay for any time you are working, even if they consider it a break. For example, if your employer needs you to work through lunch and you eat your lunch at your desk while you work, you are entitled to receive payment for this time.
If you believe your employer owes you for unpaid wages, you may have an unpaid wages claim in Florida. An employment attorney can review the details of your situation to determine how to handle your case and help get you the wages you are owed.
Is There a Statute of Limitations to File for Owed Wages in Florida?
A statute of limitations dictates how long you have to pursue your unpaid wages in Florida.
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a strict timeline for how long a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the specified time, you will forfeit your right to receive compensation.
Under the Florida unpaid wages statute, you have two years from the date the claim arose. For claims arising under the Florida Minimum Wage Act, you have four years from the date the claim arose. However, if your employer willfully violated the Florida Minimum Wage Act, you have five years to file your claim.
Discuss your situation with a Florida employment lawyer if you believe you are owed unpaid wages. The sooner you begin working on your Florida unpaid wages claim, the better.
Penalties for Unpaid Wages in Florida
Employees can file an unpaid wages claim in Florida to pursue the back wages they are owed. However, employers also face penalties for their wrongdoings.
In Florida, you are entitled to liquidated damages along with your unpaid wages for violations of the Florida Minimum Wage Act. Liquidated damages are equal to your unpaid wages. So, for example, if your employer owes you $1,000 in unpaid wages, your liquidated damages would also be $1,000.
Under federal law, you may also pursue liquidated damages equal to your award if you are pursuing unpaid overtime pay.
Your employer may also need to pay your attorney’s fees along with liquidated damages.
What to Do If You Are Owed Wages
If your employer owes you unpaid wages, you should strongly consider pursuing your back wages. To do so, you can either file a complaint with the federal Department of Labor or file a lawsuit under provisions like the Wage Theft Prevention Act.
Although you can take either route, you should speak to an employment attorney in Florida before proceeding. A lawyer can determine how best to proceed and handle your lawsuit from beginning to end.
When to Contact an Attorney
You should contact a qualified employment lawyer as soon as you notice your employer owes you unpaid pages. An attorney will review the details of your circumstances and provide valuable legal advice.
Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., is passionate about helping employees pursue justice and unpaid wages from employers. We understand how unpaid wages can negatively affect people’s lives, and we are dedicated to doing everything we can to make things right.
No matter the company’s size, we are ready to go toe to toe with your employer and get you the most favorable outcome.
Contact us today to request a free, confidential consultation.