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Wage and Hour Violations: What’s the Impact of Rising Minimum and Overtime Wage Rates Due to Changes in the Law in 2023?

Wage and Hour Violations: What’s the Impact of Rising Minimum and Overtime Wage Rates Due to Changes in the Law in 2023?

Wage and hour violations occur when an employer does not pay, account properly for, or agree to pay the full pay that it owes.  This may be a failure to pay overtime for the right number of hours or at the right rate, or a failure to pay the minimum wage (often because of off-the-clock time). 

The federal minimum wage has stayed level at $7.25 an hour since 2009.  But states have increased their minimum wages by large amounts.  Even cities have gotten in on the act. 

New York State gives workers the right to a $14.20 an hour minimum wage.  That’s an increase of about $1 per hour from not long ago.  New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County moved to a $15 per hour minimum wage, but workers there deal with higher costs as well.

Minimum wages are rising in other states too.  In New Jersey, it rose to $14.13 per hour for most workers in January 2023, also up about $1 from the rate before, and it will rise to $15 per hour for most workers in 2024.  In 2024, Connecticut’s minimum wage will gain almost $1, going up from $15 to $15.69.  In Florida, the minimum wage will not hit $15 until October 2026; it is currently $12 and will go up to $13 next October.  Ohio’s minimum wage is only $10.10, and it will go up only 35 cents in January 2024.  Pennsylvania has a minimum wage of only $7.25 an hour for many workers, but it will go up to $11 in January 2024.

Overtime pay is up in part due to changes in federal law.  In August, the Biden administration announced a proposal to make 3.6 million more workers eligible for time and a half pay for overtime hours.  If this happens, it will raise the threshold for being disqualified from receiving overtime pay as a salaried worker, from about $35,000 to about $55,000.  The U.S. Department of Labor explains: “By better identifying which employees are executive, administrative or professional employees who should be overtime exempt, the proposed rule will better ensure that those who are not exempt will gain more time with their families or receive additional compensation when working more than 40 hours a week.”

Working Off the Clock

Even when the minimum wage or overtime rates go up, some workers suffer “wage theft”   The Department of Labor defines “wage theft” to include failing to “pay workers all their hard-earned wages, including overtime pay for hours employees work over 40 in a workweek.”  U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie A. Su launched a 2014 advertising campaign that informed bosses that “Wage Theft Is a Crime.”

One way an employee can lose out on overtime or minimum pay is when the boss asks him or her to work time off the clock.  Although an employee may think they can consent to this, the law puts much of the burden on the boss. 

Sometimes employee may be working off the clock due to poor time records.  Some bosses may not remember all the hours employees work, and put down wrong hourly totals.  Others may not keep good records at all.  Others may be less honest, and try to play games with the wage system, for example shifting overtime hours into the next week.   

Misclassification to Deny Overtime Pay

Even when more workers qualify for overtime, or when a surge of customers causes hours to go up, workers may not be wrongfully denied their overtime pay.  Their boss may make a mistake, or lie, about whether a worker is on salary and what their role is.  There are exemptions from overtime pay for some roles, like some managers and people like doctors or lawyers who receive professional training, and certain administrator, people in computer-related jobs, and some domestic service employees working in private homes (not for a third party service contractor).

Calling every worker with assistant manager or office administrator in their job title does not justify failing to pay them overtime.  The actual job duties of the worker, and not their title or theoretical duties, decide whether their work qualifies for overtime pay.

Next Steps

If you have been told to work off the clock, received wrongful tip deductions or are missing tips, or have been misclassified as to your overtime or minimum wage, you may benefit from a free consultation to make sure you are being fully and correctly compensated for the hours you work.

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