Wage and hour laws exist to ensure employees are treated fairly. When an employer breaks these laws, the employee is likely to face job termination, loss of income, and other adverse effects. Things can even get worse when an employee reports wage/hour infractions. It is not uncommon for people to feel powerless when facing large ones. However, you can level the playing field by getting help from a New Haven wage and hour dispute lawyer. We are not afraid to face large companies and organizations in court.
At Aeton Law, our lawyers have been representing workers throughout the city for decades. We are always willing and able to defend your rights, so do not hesitate to call us if your boss violates labor law. Our team handles all kinds of wage and hour claims or disputes, including:
- Misclassification of employees as exempt
- Vacation pay
- Overtime pay
- Working off the clock
- Minimum wage violation
- Independent contractors
- Severance pay
- Forcing workers to be on call without pay
If you have any dispute with your employer, get in touch with Aeton Law at 860-724-2160.
Wage and Hour Laws in Connecticut
The Fair Labor Standards Act mandates all employers to pay a minimum wage to workers as well as overtime premiums if they work over 40 hours per week. This is in the exception of several narrowly defined exemptions. However, the state of Connecticut has an even more stringent state law compared to federal law. The state has a bigger minimum wage than what the Federal law dictates, in addition to other variations.
As of 1st September 2020, the minimum wage became $12 per hour and it is expected to rise to $15 by 2023. There are exceptions, of course, particularly for bartenders, waiters, and servers, whereby their tips are factored in their pay. For servers and bartenders, the minimum wage is $6.38 and $8.23 respectively.
Both federal and state laws require employers to pay non-exempt employees overtime if they work over 40 hours per week. The overtime pay is time and a half, and so, if you make $12 per hour, the law requires that you get paid $18 per hour for work done over time.
Overtime kicks in whether the employer has approved it or not. Once you have worked over 40 hours, you can’t be denied an overtime rate. Employers are expected to pay for all the hours worked, and not just the time scheduled. If your boss utilizes an automatic clock system that doesn’t take all the time into account, you’re owed back pay.
Connecticut Employees Exemptions
There are several exemptions, for which the employer isn’t required to pay overtime pay. Often, these exemptions are based on the worker’s duties. These include:
- Executive Exemption– Applies to employees that manage others.
- Administrative Exemption– Applies to individuals who do not produce the service or product the business sells.
- Learned Professional Exemption– Applies to accountants, doctors, lawyers, etc.
- Creative Professional Exemption– Applies to some journalists, photographers, and artists.
- Highly Compensated Employees– Applies to those who make at least $100,000 per year.
Common Ways Employers Violate Wage and Hour Laws
Employers have the tendency of making mistakes in either paying or assigning their employees tasks. Some of the common wage and hour law violations include:
- Failure to track/pay overtime
- Failure to fully pay workers on time
- Failure to follow the rules on paychecks
- Misclassifying workers as independent contractors
- Misclassifying regular workers as exempt employees.
- Failure to relieve workers of duty during breaks
- Retaliating against workers that challenge wage or hour violations.
How To File a Wage Dispute Claim in Connecticut
If your employer has committed one or more of the above-mentioned violations, you are eligible to file a wage dispute. Here is a brief overview of what to do:
Garner Information on Your Boss
The Labor Commissioner’s Office will require the name and address of the individual or company you work for so that they can help you. The company’s name should be listed on pay stubs, product labels, or mailing labels. If you can’t find this information, then write down the vehicle license number of your boss. If you have more than one supervisor or employer, include both their names and vehicle license plate numbers.
Track All the Hours You’ve Worked
You’ll also want to write down the time you start and stop working and breaks, as well as the total working hours. If you’re paid by piece rate or contract, you should still earn at least the minimum wage. So, record the time you spend on each piece or contract in order to compare the total wages with the work you have done.
Keep All Your Paystubs
Whenever you’re paid, the employer should give you a detailed wage settlement or a paystub. This statement should include your name, wages earned, employer’s name, address, phone number, pay period dates, and all the deductions plus accrued paid sick leave hours.
All this information will help you determine if you’re paid fairly and support your case when it comes to filing a wage claim.
Filing a Wage or Hour Claim
Once you have garnered the above-mentioned information, the next step is to file a wage claim. You can do this by mail, email, or in person. Download the claim form, fill it, print, attach the required documents and send it to the Labor Commissioner’s Office. If you are not certain of this process, it is best to have an experienced lawyer handle it to avoid costly mistakes.
Also, keep in mind that there are stringent limits in which charges of wage claims must be claimed. In order to preserve your dispute under federal law, you need to file a lawsuit within 2 years of the violation for which you’re claiming back wages/hours. However, if it’s a case of the employer’s willful violation, the state of Connecticut has a two to three year statute of limitations depending on specifics regarding your situation.
However, given you might have other claims with shorter deadlines, it is not advisable to wait until the time limit is almost expiring. Consulting a lawyer before filing your claim is recommended, but it’s not mandatory, as long as you know the process well.
How Can a New Haven Wage and Hour Dispute Lawyer Help?
In addition to figuring out whether your boss has violated a state or federal law, an experienced employment attorney can suggest sound options to challenge the employer’s unlawful conduct and tell you if you have a case that’s worth pursuing. Here are some of the ways our team can help:
Review Your Options
When your boss violates a wage or hour law, you are eligible to sue them. However, in most cases, you may have an array of other options. In some states, for instance, you can file a claim for unsettled wages against your boss with the state labor department. This will lead to a hearing to give a finding on the claim. This is a cheaper and less time-consuming alternative to pursuing a lawsuit, even though it has its downsides.
Another option is to handle the dispute informally to negotiate a settlement. A reputable employment attorney will compare these options, helping you make an informed decision.
An ideal attorney will also provide an assessment of your chances of succeeding in the above-mentioned strategies as well as the cost of undertaking each. You and the attorney will discuss the amount you’re likely to recover in damages as well as the fees you are bound to pay after successfully pursuing the damages.
Can An Employer Retaliate If You File a Wage Dispute Claim?
It’s illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who file wage/hour claims. Retaliation examples include demoting or firing employees, cutting down duties, giving undesirable shifts, reducing hours, and willingly providing false performance reviews intended to affect the employee’s position.
If your employer retaliates after filing a claim for lost wages or hours, you are eligible for filing a separate, individual lawsuit against them for the action. Reach out to the lawyers at Aeton Law today to see whether you can have your job reinstated and get compensation for the unlawful acts of your employer.
Hire a Lawyer for Your New Haven Wage or Hour Dispute
Going up against your boss in a wage or hour dispute is not an undertaking you want to do alone. Yes, both state and federal law is likely to be on your side, but you need solid evidence as well as elements of proof in order to execute a successful lawsuit. The right lawyer can garner evidence, make your case solid and fight for fair compensation for lost wages, overtime pay, vacation pay, etc.
There are numerous situations where an attorney can really benefit you as a Connecticut employee. To get in touch with an experienced and qualified employment attorney in New Haven, count on Aeton Law Firm. Reach us on email or call 860-724-2160 today! You have your rights and we can help protect them!