In a tough economy, workers need to be wary of possible wage theft violations by their employers, which are illegal under both federal and Texas state law regarding fair wage and overtime pay.
Although employees are classified either as exempt or nonexempt under these laws, employers do not always understand how the law applies to some job titles or duties. Other abuses can include meal break, tip pooling or other wage violations that, if proved, will hold the employer liable for the employee’s backpay as well as fines and other penalties.
Federal and state law
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal government has set minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping and youth employment standards that affect nonexempt workers in both the private sector as well as in governmental employment. Among the categories covered are:
- Federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Where there is a difference between federal and state minimums, employees are entitled to the higher wage.
- Overtimes laws of one and a half times above the regular rate for nonexempt employees
- Child labor provisions prohibiting employment of minors under conditions that are unacceptable to their health or well-being
The FSLA also provides guidelines on what employment is exempt or nonexempt from overtime pay. Nonexempt employees are often misclassified and are thus denied overtime and other pay.
There are complicated overtime, wage and tip pooling provisions for restaurant servers that are regulated under the Texas Payday Law. If an employer violates the law, they can face penalties and must compensate the worker for lost wages. Some of these provisions include:
- A worker who earns $20 or more per month in tips is entitled to a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. If their tips do not cover the difference between the employer’s pay of $2.13 and this minimum, the employer must provide the difference.
- A worker is entitled to keep all tips unless there is a tip pooling arrangement, and he or she is also entitled to $7.25 per hour.
- A worker who works in both a nontipped and tipped position is entitled to $7.25 per hour in both capacities.
Because wage and overtime laws are complex and often misunderstood, employees may not realize that they have been victims of wage theft. If you suspect that your employer has violated your rights, it is wise to seek out skilled legal advocacy serving the Houston area that will help you achieve the results you deserve.