Employment Law -- Employee
Arizona Employment Law
Arizona was among the states that maintained a high unemployment rate for years following the Great Recession in the United States. However, following a gradual decline in that rate and a sudden spike to six percent in mid-2016, Arizona’s unemployment rate has taken a steep dive into 2017, dropping below five percent.
While the Grand Canyon State’s economy continues to recover, workers still face financial challenges in the workplace. In an effort to save money, some employers are illegally withholding compensation and benefits due to their workers. If you suspect your employer of wage theft or illegally denying you paid time off, Arizona’s employment laws can help to backup your claim.
Employment law covers a multitude of topics, including worker’s compensation, workplace discrimination, vacation and overtime, unemployment benefits and more. Your employment dispute is often affected by federal, state and local laws simultaneously. Arizona employment law attorneys are experienced with the delicacy and complexity of work-related cases and can help protect your rights.
Common Arizona Employment Law Issues
Wage and hour violations are some of the most common employment law issues in Arizona. For example, if your employer won’t pay you overtime or demands you to hand over all of your earned tips, they may be violating wage and hour laws.
The Fair Labor Standards Act and Arizona’s employment laws set minimum standards for how much compensation a worker is legally qualified for and certain conditions in which that compensation is modified. Employers are required to pay workers at a rate that’s the greater between the federal and state minimum wages. (In Arizona, the state minimum wage is the greater rate.) However, in the cases of overtime and tipped workers, an employee’s minimum wage can be increased or decreased within legal limits.
If an employer violates your rights under wage and hour laws, you may be able to sue for unpaid wages and other damages, such as a loss of benefits or emotional stress.
Arizona Minimum Wage
Arizona’s minimum wage is $10/hour as of January 2017. Proposition 206 was passed into law in November 2016 and will increase the state minimum wage incrementally to $12/hour by 2020.
Collecting Unemployment Insurance Benefits in Arizona
Losing your job can be tough and finding a new one can be tougher in Arizona’s job market. While you’re between jobs, you may qualify to receive weekly financial aid through Arizona’s Unemployment Insurance Benefits program.
To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must have been terminated from your job at no fault of your own—meaning that you weren’t fired for misconduct or gross negligence. Your previous employer must have paid the state unemployment tax and you must meet these wage requirements in your previous job:
- You earned 390 times the state minimum wage in your highest earning quarter of your base period.
- Your base period consists of the first four quarters of the last five quarters before you applied for benefits. One quarter consists of three months. A year is divided into four quarters: January, February and March are Quarter 1 (Q1); April, May and June are Q2; July, August and September are Q3; and October, November and December are Q4. If you applied for benefits in Q2 of 2017, then your base period would be the four quarters (Q1 through Q4) of the 2016.
- To qualify for benefits, you must have made at least $3,139.50 in your highest quarter in 2016 or $3,900 in your highest quarter in 2017 depending on your qualifying base period. (That’s 390 times the minimum wage, which was $8.05/hour in 2016 and $10/hour in 2017.)
- Your total wages in the other three quarters in your base period must equal at least one half of your wages in your highest earning quarter. For example, if you made $4,050 in your highest earning quarter, the total wages in your other three quarters must equal $2,025 or more.
- Alternatively to the above requirements, you can qualify if you made at least a total of $7,000 in two of your base period quarters. In one of the two qualifying quarters, you must have earned at least $5987.50.
If you qualify for unemployment benefits, you can earn a weekly benefit of four percent of your highest earning quarter wages up to a maximum of $240. You can claim your weekly benefit for up to 26 weeks.
Get Help from an Arizona Employment Attorney
If you or a loved one is involved in an employment law dispute, it’s in your best interests to consult with an attorney. Employment law is a broad, complicated legal area with federal and state laws at play. An experienced Arizona employment law attorney can help protect your legal rights.