Boberlaw Blog

Higher Florida Minimum Wage Starting in January 2017

nickel-picture On January 1, 2017, the Florida minimum wage will increase by five cents ($0.05) from $8.05 to $8.10 per hour.  A covered employee who is paid the minimum wage would also be entitled to an overtime wage of at least $12.15 per hour.  As of January 1, 2017, tipped employees in Florida must be paid a direct wage of $5.08, which is equal to the $8.10 minimum wage minus a $3.02 tip credit, and an overtime wage of $9.13.  An employee who has not received the required wage may bring a lawsuit in court.  If your employer or former employer fails to pay you the required wage rate, call a wage attorney at Bober & Bober, P.A. at 800-995-9243 for a free consultation.

Overtime Wage Protection Expanded

Cash in EnvelopeThe United States Department of Labor (DOL) has finalized a new overtime wage rule that requires employers to pay overtime wages to employees making less than $913 per week or $47,476 per year.  Employers would have to pay such employees time-and-a-half their regular hourly rate for any hours worked over forty (40) in a week.  In determining if an employee’s salary meets the $47,476 threshold amount, employers can inlcude bonuses and incentive payments such as commissions, up to 10% of the new standard salary amount. The minimum salary threshold will be updated every three years.  The new rule will take effect December 1, 2016.

Under the prior 2004 rule, workers making less than $23,660 annually or $455 per week were entitled to overtime pay. Under that lower salary amount of $455 per week, a fast food restaruant manager who earned a salary of $455 per week and worked 60 hours per week was making less than the Florida minimum wage per hour worked.

Estimates differ on the number of salaried employees affected by the new rule.  The DOL estimates that an additional 4.2 million salaried employees will be eligible for overtime pay under the new rule.  The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that 12.5 million salaried workers currently make at least $455 but less than $913 per week.  http://www.epi.org/publication/who-benefits-from-new-overtime-threshold/  The new overtime pay rule is expected to affect the retail industry and restaurant industry the most. Managers who work overtime would now be eligible to receive overtime wages pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) if they earn less than the $47,476 threshold salary amount.

If your employer or former employer fails to pay you overtime wages, call a wage attorney at Bober & Bober, P.A. at 800-995-9243 for a free consultation.

Expanded Overtime Wage Protection

fast food workerUnder a new United States Department of Labor (DOL) proposal to expand overtime wage protection, anyone making an annual salary of less than $50,440 automatically would be guaranteed overtime pay for hours worked over forty in a workweek. The overtime law requires covered employees to be paid time and one-half their regular rate for hours worked over forty in a workweek. This expanded overtime wage protection is a significant increase from the prior yearly salary threshold of $23,660, (which is equivalent to $455 per week). The $23,660 pay threshold for exclusion from overtime pay protection is less than the federal poverty line for a family of four. Under the proposal, workers making more than $50,440 annually, (which is the equivalent of $970 per week) would also still have to meet certain job duty requirements to be exempt from overtime pay.  You can view a U.S. Department of Labor video explaining the change.  This expanded overtime wage protection takes a significant step in curbing the abuse of salaried workers and limiting the exemption from overtime pay. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates an additional five million (5,000,000) workers will be entitled to overtime under the new rule, including convenience store managers, fast food managers, and some office workers.  If your employer or former employer failed to pay you overtime wages, call a wage attorney at Bober & Bober, P.A. at 800-995-9243 for a free consultation.

Manicure Industry Wage Theft

manicuristMany nail salons commit wage theft violations by not paying manicurist at least the minimum wage for hours worked, and by making illegal deductions from customer tips or wages.  (“The Price of Nails” New York Times, 5/7/15).   Manicure industry wage theft is common.  For example, nail salons often do not pay newly hired manicurists the required minimum wages for work.  While nail salon workers are usually considered “tipped employees” and paid a reduced minimum wage, salon owners often fail to make up the difference between the reduced and full minimum wage when tips are insufficient to allow the technicians to earn at least the full minimum wage and overtime for all hours worked.   Many nail salons also do not pay the required minimum wage for weeks or months of training.  Some nail salons also illegally require new manicurists to pay a training fee, such $100 to $200, to begin work at the nail salon or to learn a new skill. Nail salons also dock the tips of nail technicians for minor incidents such as spilling a bottle of nail polish. In one nail salon lawsuit, the workers alleged they were paid $1.50 per hour for working a sixty-six (66) hour workweek, paid nothing on slow days, and charged for drinking water.  Many nail salon workers are part of a vulnerable population because they are in the country illegally, are undocumented workers, and speak limited English.  The wage laws, however, protect even undocumented workers from wage theft.

If your employer or former employer violated your wage rights, call a wage attorney at Bober & Bober, P.A. at 1-800-995-9243 for a free consultation.

Florida Minimum Wage Increases to $8.05

Effective January 1, 2015, the Florida minimum wage will increase from $7.93 to $8.05 per hour. The increase is required by a Florida constitutional amendment establishing a minimum wage for the state, and requiring that the minimum wage be adjusted based on inflation and the Consumer Price Index.

The increased minimum wages for 2015 also applies to tipped employees. Tipped employees must receive a direct wage of at least $5.03 per hour, in addition to tips received. In order for an employer to take a tip credit (i.e. pay a tipped employee $3.02 less than the full Florida minimum wage), the tipped employee’s tips must make up the difference between the reduced direct wage and the full minimum wage, and the employer must inform the employee of its intent to take a tip credit. If a tipped employee’s direct wage plus tips do not equal the full $8.05 per hour minimum wage, the employer must make up the shortage.

An employee who has not been paid the correct minimum wage has the right to bring a lawsuit in court to recover unpaid wages, liquidated damages, attorney’s fees and costs. If your employer has violated your wage rights, call a wage and hour lawyer at Bober & Bober, P.A. at 800-995-WAGE (9523) for a free consultation.

Exotic Dancers Win Minimum Wage Lawsuit

A court has determined that exotic dancers who performed at Rick’s Cabaret, an adult nightclub in New York, were employees covered by federal and state wage laws. A class action consisting of strippers sued the night club where they worked for unpaid minimum wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York wage laws. The gentlemen’s club did not pay the dancers any wages, took a portion of the dancers’ performance fees, and imposed fines if the dancers violated certain rules. The adult nightclub claimed unsuccessfully that the dancers were not covered by the minimum wage laws because they were independent contractors. The court determined the exotic dancers were employees, not independent contractors, because the club exercised so much control over the adult dancers that it could be described as “micromanagement.” For example, the club required the exotic dancers to work eight hour shifts, wear stiletto heels that were a least 4 inches high, prohibited body glitter, and required any tattoos to be covered by make-up. The court in the Rick’s Cabaret case also rejected the employer’s argument that the performance fees paid to the dancers by customers could be used to meet the employer’s wage requirements because the employer did not make the performance fees part of its gross receipts, and distribute from its gross receipts some of those performance fees back to the exotic dancers. Thus, the court held that the performance fees were tips in which the gentlemen’s club was not allowed share, and were not service fees. The court’s conclusion in the Rick’s Cabaret case that the exotic dancers were covered by the wage laws was in line with many other courts. It also followed an $8,000,000 class action settlement between New York City’s Penthouse Executive Club and its adult dancers.

If you believe your employer has been illegally treating you as an independent contractor, has been stealing some of your tips, or violating the overtime and unpaid wage laws in Florida, call our unpaid wage attorney at Bober & Bober, P.A. at 800-995-9243 for a fee consultation.

Prepaid Wage Cards May Violate Wage Laws

An increasing number of mostly hourly workers are being paid their wages by prepaid cards instead of by check or direct deposit. Employees are able to use these prepaid cards like debit cards to withdraw their pay at an A.T.M. But in most cases, using these prepaid cards requires the employee to pay a fee. For example, prepaid payroll card providers may charge a fee to make a withdrawal at an A.T.M., a fee to receive a paper statement, a fee to replace a lost card, overdraft fees, transfer fees, and even a fee for inactivity for not using the prepaid card. After the fees for use of these prepaid payroll cards are taken into account, some employees can end up making less than the minimum for hours worked. If your employer pays you your wages with a prepaid payroll card, call Bober & Bober, P.A. at 800-995-WAGE (9243) for a free consultation about whether the prepaid card fees being deducted from your wages violates minimum wage or overtime wage laws.

Unpaid Internships May Violate Wage Laws

Employers are not allowed to refuse to pay minimum wages and overtime merely because they label workers as “interns.” While an unpaid internship can provide a valuable experience for some people, it also may result in a wage violation for an employer. An example of internship wage violations is a lawsuit brought by unpaid interns alleging overtime and minimum wage violations committed by Fox Searchlight regarding the interns’ work on the film Black Swan. In determining whether an internship may be unpaid, the court looked at six factors: “1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment; 2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern; 3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff; 4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded; 5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and 6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.” Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures. The court determined that two production interns who had brought the lawsuit were improperly classified as unpaid interns when they actually were employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and entitled to wages. The interns were providing “an immediate advantage to their employer and performing low-level tasks not requiring specialized training.” The judge also allowed the case to move forward as a class action on behalf of a group of Fox Searchlight interns. This ruling interprets the trainee exception narrowly, and sets the bar very high for not paying interns.

Many people just starting their careers feel pressure to work in unpaid positions to enhance their resumes, but often such unpaid internships do not increase the odds of obtaining a paid position. Moreover, many interns realize their work should be paid, but they are afraid to complain because they fear losing their position. If you worked the time, however, you may be entitled under the law to be paid for it. For example, under the current federal minimum wage of $7.25, if you worked in an unpaid internship for forty-five hours per week for ten weeks, you may be entitled to $3,116 in unpaid minimum wages and $584.50 in unpaid overtime wages. If you have been working in an unpaid internship, call Bober & Bober, P.A. at 800-995-WAGE (9243) for a free consultation about whether you were working as an employee and are entitled to overtime and minimum wages.

Florida’s Minimum Wage Increases to $7.79 in January 2013

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has announced that the minimum wage in Florida will increase to $7.79 per hour as of January 1, 2013. Florida’s minimum wage is currently higher than the federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage requires covered employers to pay their employees only $7.25 per hour, which is $0.54 less than the Florida minimum wage as of 2013. Under Florida’s higher minimum wage in 2013, employees who earn tips will be entitled to a direct wage $4.77 per hour for the first forty hours of a workweek, where their employer meets the eligibility requirements for taking a tip credit against payment of the full Florida minimum wage. For overtime hours, Florida employers will have to pay $11.69 per hour, and $8.67 for overtime hours worked by tipped employees. If your employer fails to pay you the required minimum wage and overtime, you may be entitled to your unpaid wages, plus up to double the amount owed, plus your attorney’s fees and costs. If you have questions about the pay practices where you work, call Bober & Bober, P.A. at 1-800-995-9243 for a free consultation.

Study Finds Growing Wage Theft Problem in Florida

A study by the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy, Center for Labor Research and Studies at Florida International University entitled “Wage Theft: An Economic Drain on Florida” found wage theft to be a growing and widespread problem in Florida. The Study found that the tourism industry (which includes the accommodation and food service industries), the retail trade industry, and construction industry were particularly impacted by wage theft. In a double blow to employees, the Study found that the lowest wage earners were the most likely to be victims of wage theft, even though such low wage earners are the least able group of worker to be able to afford non-payment of earned wages. As the Study notes, wage theft takes many forms, including unpaid overtime, unpaid minimum wages, working through unpaid meal periods, mislabeling employees as independent contractors, requiring off-the-clock work, changing time cards or pay records, illegal pay deductions, and paying wages late or not at all. The Study points out that wage theft is bad not only for employees affected, but also for the business community because it allows unscrupulous employers to gain an unfair advantage by putting law abiding employers at a competitive disadvantage. The Study concludes that much more can be done to combat wage theft because Florida’s has no statewide mechanism, such as a Florida labor board, to enforce existing Florida’s wage laws. Such enforcement of the wage laws is largely left to attorneys who represent employees whose wage rights have been violated, and/or the U.S. Department of Labor if the wage violation is within the scope of federal law. If your employer is violating your wage rights, or you have questions about the pay practices where you work, call Bober & Bober, P.A. at 1-800-995-9243 for a free consultation.