Employment Law

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Employment law at a glance

Employment law is the section of United States laws that determines how an employee and employer can work together. It regulates the relationship between workers, managers, and owners to ensure everyone is treated fairly and respectfully. It includes how and when an employee can work, what they should be paid, and the minimum conditions that are safe and appropriate to work in. It also determines when someone can be hired or fired and outlines the rights of employees and employers. Both federal and state governments have enacted a wide range of employment laws protecting employees from discriminatory treatment, unfair labor practices, unsafe work conditions, and more.

What are my rights as a worker?

  • Minimum Wage: The federally mandated minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25 per hour ($10.00 for Florida). Employers sometimes charge employees for things that occur during the course of a work shift, such as customers leaving without paying, and a variety of other miscellaneous expenses that can bring the employee’s hourly wage down to under minimum wage. Tipped employees can be paid a reduced amount, but only for work that generates tips.
  • Overtime: If a non-exemp employee works more than 40 hours a week, they are entitled to make an hourly wage of 1.5 times their normal hourly wage for each overtime hour worked. If an employer fails to pay or improperly calculates overtime, employees are entitled to back pay for those unpaid wages. Just because you are a salaried employee does not automatically mean you are not entitled to overtime.
  • Compensatory Time: Some employers try to circumvent overtime by offering the employee additional paid time off at a later date. This is improper, as the employee never receives the mandated increase in pay.
  • Work Travel: An employer cannot count work-related travel time as unpaid. If the employee is traveling for work, they must be compensated for the time spent traveling.
  • Unpaid Training: If employees are mandated to spend work tiem at lectures, seminars, meetings, or training events, they need to be paid for the time they dedicated to those activities.
  • Unpaid Meals/Breaks: Employees have a right to take time to eat and take additional rest breaks. If an employer mandates that employees work through lunch or rest breaks, then the employee should be paid for that additional time, including overtime if applicable.

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