Wage and Hour Claims In Illinois
Over the past several years, companies across the United States have laid off hundreds of thousands of workers and consolidated their jobs. Now, the work of two or three employees’ falls onto one. When jobs are consolidated, workers suffer. They work longer hours for the same amount of pay, while their employers make unprecedented profits.
If you believe your employer is not paying you the wages required by law, call attorney Christopher Dixon today for a FREE wage and hour consultation. Our staff is available 24/7 at 312-600-8054 or toll free at 855-402-2747.
Federal and State Wage and Hour Laws
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), all workers are guaranteed a number of rights, mainly to ensure that the workers are paid fairly for the time they work. These rights include a minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, pay for overtime, and a restriction on child labor.
The federal minimum wage is currently set at $7.25 per hour. Some states have established a higher minimum wage, such as Illinois, whose minimum wage is $8.25 per hour as of February 24, 2015. The FSLA does not require any specific payment system (i.e. hours, piece rates, commission, etc.); it only requires the employee to be paid equal to or exceeding the minimum wage. Employers must pay employees in a form of cash or other legal forms of compensation, such as food or lodging. Any discounts the employee receives may not be counted towards the minimum wage.
The FLSA does not require employers’ to pay for employees’ time off work, such as vacation, sick time, or holidays, unless paid time off is offered by the employer.
In Illinois, employers can pay tipped employees $4.95 per hour, as long as the employee’s tips bring the total hourly wage up to the state minimum requirement.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
Under the 1963 amendment to the FLSA, called the Equal Pay Act, men and women who do the same job or jobs that require equal skill and responsibility must be compensated with equal wages and benefits. However, the Act allows disparate treatment if they are based on seniority, merit systems, systems measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production, or factor other than gender.
Pay for Overtime
The FLSA does not limit the amount of hours an employee can work in a week, unless the employee is a minor. However, it does require that any covered worker who works more than 40 hours in one week must be paid at least one-and-a-half times his or her regular pay for every hour worked over 40.
Restrictions on Child Labor
Minors under the age of 18 cannot work in any job that is considered hazardous – including jobs that involve mining, demolition, logging, and roofing. To encourage minors to stay in school, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has enacted additional restrictions on minor workers:
- They may not work more than three hours on a school day and no more than 18 hours in a school week.
- They may work no more than eight hours on a non-school day and no more than 40 hours during a non-school week.
- During the school year, minors may not work earlier than 7 a.m. and no later than 7 p.m. During the summertime, minors may not work earlier than 7 a.m., but they are allowed to work until 9 p.m.
Examples of Wage and Hour Violations
Some common violations of the FLSA include:
- Unpaid or underpaid overtime
- Minimum wage violations
- Unpaid meals or lunch breaks – under Illinois law, employees who work at least 7 ½ hours are required to take at least 20 minutes for a meal break. The meal break must be given no more than 5 hours after beginning work.
- Unpaid time for work travel
- Compensatory time – some employers offer their employees an hour off, at some point in the future, for every hour worked now instead of paying for overtime. This is illegal.
- Unpaid training, meetings, or lectures
- Unpaid Preliminary and Closing Activities – on 9/26/2011, a jury awarded workers from multiple Tyson Foods, Inc., meat processing facilities reimbursement for uncompensated duties performed before and after their shifts, such as putting on boots, aprons, gloves, whites, ear plugs, and hair nets. Tyson required workers to perform these duties prior to clocking in and beginning their shift. If an employee has to work before or after their shift, they are entitled to be paid for it.
- Improper calculation of overtime pay – Employers have also been found to improperly calculate over time pay. Simply put, if the calculation is off by a dollar, quarter, nickel or otherwise, it is a clear violation of Federal Law. Employers are able to save millions of dollars each year through unsuspecting employees who have not taken the time to check their employer’s overtime calculation, simply thinking it must be close enough.
The above list is not exhaustive. Employers today will try to find ways to take advantage of their employees so that they may line their pockets. It’s important for employees to stay alert and vigilant. Most employees are not familiar with the FSLA, and employers rarely encourage them to be familiar with the laws.
Can I Be Fired For Me For Making A Wage And Hour Claim?
No. The Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision on March 22, 2011, which protects workers who bring forward employer violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Supreme Court explained that the anti-retaliation provision seeks to eliminate “labor conditions detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being of workers.” 29 U.S.C. §202(a).
How To Hire An Illinois Wage and Hour Lawyer
If you or a loved one feels that your employer has violated the law in paying you, you may be entitled to compensation. Under the FSLA, employees can file a private lawsuit against their employer regarding unpaid overtime or other wage violations.
If you are being forced to work without receiving proper compensation, a wage and hour attorney will assist in helping you recover what you are owed. Wage and hour lawsuits require a detailed analysis of all factors surrounding the employment situation. In addition, a failure to bring your wage and hour claim in the applicable statue of limitations period may forever prevent you from recovering from your unpaid time.
Our wage and hour lawyers will fight to ensure you receive an honest wage for an honest days work. Call wage employment lawyer Chris Dixon today toll free at 855- 402-2747 to discuss your right to reimbursement.