Labor and employment law may be handled at both the federal or the state level. It covers a lot of ground including; child labor, FMLA, federal/ government contracts, healthcare plans, retirement, safety standards, and work authorization for immigrants. Of course, that’s a partial list. The 6 most common forms of employee mistreatment include:
- Not meeting minimum wage requirements
- Ignoring overtime pay laws
- Misclassification of employees
- Workplace discrimination
- Workplace retaliation
- Wrongful termination
We’re going to explain the basics of each of the 6 most common forms of employee mistreatment. If you believe that you’ve been mistreated by your employer in one of those ways or in another way covered by federal or state law, contact a Phoenix employment lawyer to discuss your potential claim. These claims must be filed within a certain amount of time after the incident occurs. Missing that window could result in you losing your potential legal rights.
Not Meeting Minimum Wage Requirements
In most of Arizona, the minimum wage that can be paid to an employee is $10.50 an hour. The state is scheduled to increase the minimum wage to $12.00 an hour by 2020. All employees are entitled to earn the full minimum wage set by state or federal law, regardless of whether they are entitled to tips. Federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. Employees who are paid in tips can make as little as $7.50 an hour provided that they earn enough in tips to receive the state’s minimum wage of $10.50 an hour.
Failure for an employer to pay at least minimum wage is a violation of Arizona’s labor and employment law. Depending on circumstances, the employer may also be in violation of the FLSA. The FLSA sets the federal minimum wage.
Ignoring Overtime Pay Laws
The FLSA has another job besides setting the federal minimum wage. It also creates standards related to overtime pay. Employers are required to provide overtime pay to nonexempt employees who are covered by the FLSA. That includes hourly employees and even some salaried employees. Overtime pay is set at the rate of 1.5 times of an hourly employee’s rate if that employee works more than 40 hours in a week.
Executives, administrators, and other professionals who earn at least $455 per week are exempt from overtime under Arizona law. So are certain salespersons (such as those who set their own hours), certain IT/ computer employees, independent contractors, certain transportation employees, employees of farms, employees in the agricultural industry, and employees who live with their employers (such as a cook, housekeeper, or nanny).
Don’t dismiss your potential claim. Certain types of professional employees, such as nurses, are entitled to overtime pay. To learn more and find out if you should have received overtime pay, contact a Phoenix employment lawyer to schedule a consultation.
Misclassification of Employees
How your employer classifies you can affect your legal rights. Many employers know this and purposefully misclassify workers to avoid certain responsibilities. There are three classifications used by employers: exempt employees, nonexempt employees, and independent contractors.
An exempt employee isn’t entitled to overtime pay; they’re also not protected by the FLSA. For an employee to truly be exempt, they must fall within a certain category of work or earn more than $455 per week as a salaried employee. Again, though, don’t let the thought of being a salaried professional make you automatically believe that your employer properly classified you. The FLSA doesn’t say all professionals who make salary are automatically exempt. A Phoenix employment lawyer can determine whether you’re properly classified as exempt.
A nonexempt employee is an employee who is entitled to overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a work week. They generally earn less than $455 per week, but they may earn more.
An independent contractor is someone who performs specific tasks as an employee might, but they’re not classified as an employee. As such, they aren’t protected by the FLSA. They are required to handle their own taxes. They’re not entitled to unemployment or workers’ compensation. Under Arizona law, when an employer hires an independent contractor, they must secure the designation of an independent contractor by having the worker sign a declaration of independent business status.
If you believe that you may not be properly classified by your employer, reach out to a Phoenix employment lawyer who focuses their practice on helping employees.
Workplace discrimination covers a wide set of actions. It can involve hiring or firing (although we’ll talk more about wrongful termination on its own), how job assignments are made, how much employees are paid, how promotions are given or denied, opportunities for training, and available fringe benefits. Discrimination can be a violation of federal and state law.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, workers are protected from discrimination based on their sex, race, color, national origin, or religion if the employer has 15 or more employees. Employers may not refuse to hire or fire someone or discriminate against them (including their pay, conditions of employment, benefits, and privileges) based on those five protected classes. They also may not segregate or otherwise classify an employee to deny them employment opportunities or to otherwise impact their status as an employee.
Another form of discrimination in the workplace is sexual discrimination. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is a federal law that says employers may not discriminate against employees (including what they’re paid) based on the employee’s gender.
Age discrimination is also prohibited by law. Employees who are 40 years of age or older are protected from being discriminated against in hiring, firing, or withholding of a job promotion.
Individuals with disabilities are also protected under several federal laws when it comes to employment. It is considered discrimination to create qualifications simply for the purpose of disqualifying someone with a disability. Employees may not deny a disabled employee the opportunity to be a member on a planning or advisory board. There are many other ways that employees and individuals with disabilities may be discriminated against. If you would fall under the umbrella of disability and believe that you were discriminated against, don’t wait to contact a Phoenix employment lawyer to learn more about your potential claim.
Sometimes, employers don’t do the right thing and employees must be brave and speak up. This should be greeted with an open attitude and a desire to change. Yet, many employees are punished via workplace retaliation. This is also common when an employee files a complaint for discrimination or harassment. Retaliation is an act that punishes an employee for enforcing their legal rights. The most common versions of workplace retaliation include immediate termination without an explanation, demotion after filing a complaint, being subjected to a pay decrease, threats, and loss of a rightful promotion.
Arizona state law also protects employees from retaliation. Document the incident or incidents when they happen and contact a Phoenix employment lawyer.
Arizona is an at-will state for employment. So, employers may fire an employee if they have good cause or no cause, but they can’t fire someone for a bad cause. A bad cause would be because they’re acting in a way that is discriminatory, retaliating for whistleblowing by an employee, because an employee refuses to break the law, or for other reasons.
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If you believe that you have been on the receiving end of any of these 6 most common forms of employee mistreatment, contact a Phoenix labor and employment lawyer to evaluate your potential claim.