The federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. The federal minimum wage provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It is illegal to fire, fail to promote or otherwise discriminate against an employee who complains or questions his payment of minimum wage.
Steps to Take If You’re Not Getting Paid Minimum Wage
Although employers are legally prohibited from paying workers less than minimum wage, it doesn’t stop some employers from trying to cut corners. If a company, for example, is struggling financially, they may try to pay their workers less than minimum wage. If you’re not being paid at least minimum wage, you don’t have to stand for that kind of treatment. You deserve to be paid a fair wage.
Here are the steps you should take if your employer isn’t paying you what you deserve:
- Talk to Your Employer: If you believe you are being paid less than minimum wage, the first thing you have to do is let your employer know. While this might sound like it may be an uncomfortable conversation, it is a necessary one. It is possible that your employer may not know you’re not being paid enough. When speaking to your boss, be specific about the errors you see in your paycheck, such as the hourly payment you received compared to how much you should be getting paid in your state.
- File a Claim: If your employer won’t change your pay rate after your conversation, you don’t have to give up. You can file a claim with your state Department of Labor. Fill out the paperwork per the instruction and include as many details as possible in your answers. Proofread your claim to ensure you didn’t make any errors. Once you send in the claim, the department will review it and determine if it is valid. If they do conclude that your claim is valid, the department will force your employer to pay the money they owe you.
- Consult a Lawyer: If the Department of Labor denies your claim, your case does not have to end there. The next step is to speak to an experienced employment lawyer about your situation. He or she will thoroughly investigate your case and determine if you should pursue a lawsuit or not. Your lawyer will help you learn about your rights and answer all of your questions.
- Gather Evidence: In order to have a successful claim, you must provide the court with sufficient evidence. It isn’t enough to just say your employer is paying you below minimum wage. For example, you could gather your pay stubs, employee handbooks and emails to show your employer is underpaying you.