Employment Law Compliance Attorney

In Employment by Garrett, Walker, Aycoth & Olson, Attorneys at Law

Employment Law Compliance Lawyer

There are several important federal laws regulating employment that every employer should know. For example, there’s the Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs minimum wage and overtime pay, the National Labor Relations Act which regulates and protects labor organizing and labor union operations, Title VII of the Civil Rights Ac, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which all both protect workers from discrimination in employment. There are also laws like the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which regulates workplaces to protect workers from hazardous working environments. It’s important to keep in compliance with federal labor laws and their state equivalents. Some allow employees to sue their employer for noncompliance, some allow the government to sue, and failure to follow the Occupational Safety and Health Act could potentially bring criminal charges if the government believes non-compliance was egregious enough to constitute criminal negligence. An employment law compliance lawyer can help you evaluate your business practices and make sure that none of these things happen to you.

Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act created a national minimum wage and a national requirement for overtime payments. The federal minimum wage is set at $7.25, but many states have their own minimum wage laws that set minimum age higher. It is best to be compliant with whichever law is stricter, because an employee can just as easily sue for unpaid wages from an equivalent state law as a federal one, and the state government can investigate your business and cause problems just as easily as the federal government. The FLSA established overtime as being any time worked after 40 hours in a workweek, and that employees should be compensated at 1.5 times their hourly rate. What many people don’t know is that while the FLSA has exemptions to who qualifies to overtime, it is not solely based on whether someone is paid on an hourly basis or is paid a set salary per week. There are two ways to calculate overtime for those who are salaried. If they are paid a fixed wage regardless of the hours they work, then the overtime rate is determined by dividing their weekly salary, say $1000.00, by the number of hours they actually worked, say 50, giving us the hourly rate that they were effectively paid, which is $20.00 an hour. Because the pay is the same with varying hours, the FLSA considers the employee paid for their time on those 10 overtime hours, which leaves only the half of the time and a half formula. So the overtime rate would be half the hourly rate, which is $10.00, which with 10 hours working overtime gives us overtime pay of $100.00.

If the salary is adjusted depending on the days the employee actually works, then the formula is slightly different. You would divide the weekly salary by 40 hours, because it has been agreed by both employer and employee to be the wage they make for working 40 hours in a week. In our above example, that would give us an hourly wage of $25.00. Overtime would be 1.5 times that, because, as mentioned earlier, the employee was not compensated for those 10 overtime hours because $1,000.00 is compensation for 40 hours of work. That would be overtime pay of $39.50, which at 10 overtime hours equals $395.00 in overtime pay. It’s important to make sure you’re using the correct formula, especially because some states like Virginia have their own overtime law that does not allow the variable pay formula, and only allows the fixed rate formula to be used for overtime calculation. In a lawsuit, employees can sue for unpaid overtime for the prior two years, though it can be three years if the court decides that the error was a willful violation. Employees can recover unpaid wages, plus the same amount as punitive damages if the court decides that is appropriate. If an employee was misclassified as exempt from overtime pay, and they should have made the above $395.00 a week, then the absolute worst case scenario would be a loss of $123,240.00 with 3 years of damages and punitive damages. And that’s only for one employee, if there were more employees who were not properly paid overtime, and they sued together, the losses would be exponentially greater. That’s why it’s important to speak with an employment law compliance lawyer and prevent any of the above from happening. 

National Labor Relations Act

The National Labor Relations Act is not as obviously costly as the Fair Labor Standards Act. There is no private right to sue under the National Labor Relations Act, which means that employees must file complaints with the National Labor Relations Board who will investigate their complaints. If they find evidence of non-compliance, they will either bring you to court before an administrative law judge or in federal civil court. While they do not have the ability under the current law to enact civil penalties on violators, they do have the ability to “make whole,” which means different things depending on the violation. If your company fired an employee because he was trying to unionize his fellow employees, the NLRB could force you to rehire him with backpay. If your company has a policy forbidding anyone from discussing their wages, the NLRB could require you to put a poster on the wall explaining your employees’ rights under the NLRA. It’s mostly related to rehiring with backpay and putting up information informing workers about their rights; however, it can still be an expensive process. Lawyer’s fees can add up, even in administrative law courts. This could also mean an employee who’s rehired with backpay could wind up with more backpay over the period of litigation. It’s better to make sure that you’re compliant and avoid any problems in the first place. An employment law compliance lawyer can help you with any issues you might have with labor organizing to make sure that you do not run afoul of the NLRA.