Wage & Hour Laws -- Employee

Common Wage Law Issues

What Is The Minimum Wage?

In May 2007, Federal minimum wage was increased to $7.25 per hour, but will be implemented in three stages ($5.85 by July 24, 2007, $6.55 by July 24, 2008 and $7.25 by July 24, 2009). However, States can set minimum wages higher for their state, but not lower.

What Notices Must Be Given Before An Employee Is Terminated Or Laid Off?

The FLSA has no requirement for notice to an employee prior to termination or lay-off. In some situations, the WARN Act provides for notice to workers prior to lay-off. Some states may have requirements for employee notification prior to termination or lay-off.

When Does Termination Violate Public Policy?

If termination was the result of some retaliation or discrimination, then the termination may violate public policy and the employee may be able to take legal action against the employer. Some examples of terminations that are against public policy include:

  1. discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, disability, age, marital status, or sexual orientation;
  2. discrimination or retaliation for seeking a reasonable accommodation for a disability;
  3. discrimination or retaliation for having complained about discrimination or unlawful harassment;
  4. retaliation for taking a medical leave of absence;
  5. discrimination or retaliation for complaining about workplace safety;
  6. discrimination or retaliation for filing for workers’ compensation; and
  7. retaliation for having complained to the employer, or to a government agency about the unlawful activities of the employer.

Is The Employer Required To Keep A Copy Of My Pay Stubs?

The FLSA does require that employers keep accurate records of hours worked and wages paid to employees. However, the FLSA does not require an employer to provide employees pay stubs. Some states have laws that require employers to furnish copies or reasonable access to employee records.

What rights do I have to collect unpaid sales commissions after leaving my company?

In recent years, many states have enacted specific laws that set forth timeframes and guidelines for sales representatives to collect unpaid sales commissions from their former employers. These laws might go so far as to specify the terms and conditions concerning the earning and payment of sales commissions, or may require that the parties enter into a written contract that specifies those terms. In any case, your ability to collect unpaid sales commissions after leaving your company will be determined primarily by state law and any written contracts that exist between you and your former company. 

What if my employer is not paying me for my sales commissions?

If you have been unsuccessful in speaking with your employer informally about unpaid sales commissions, you should consider writing a formal demand letter setting forth the amounts to which you believe you are entitled, as well as the reasons that you believe you are entitled to those amounts. If you are still unable to resolve your claim for unpaid sales commissions, you may wish to consult an employment attorney for assistance in initiating litigation against your employer. You also may have access to assistance through your state’s department of labor or similar agency.

How can I file a claim against my employer for an unpaid sales commission?

If you are unable to resolve a claim against your employer for an unpaid sales commission informally, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer for advice in obtaining your sales commission. While relatively small amounts of unpaid commissions may be recoverable on your own in small claims court, larger unpaid sales commissions may require litigation with the assistance of an attorney. You may also want to consult with your state or federal department of labor regarding any specific statutes that might support your claim for unpaid sales commissions. 

What rights do I have to compensation if I am hired based on sales commission?

In some states, you are entitled to a written agreement with your employer if you are hired for a position in which you will be paid based on sales commissions. This agreement should specify your rights to compensation as a result of earning sales commissions. Some states also have specific laws that deal with the timeframes for paying sales commissions, and offer remedies for sales representatives working on commission who do not receive their sales commissions in a timely fashion, or at all, from their employers.

What percentage of my sales commission can my employer take?

Sales commissions can be calculated in a number of ways, including a straight percentage of the costs of the goods sold, or some combination of sales revenues and a salary or hourly wage. There is no set percentage of a sales commission that an employer can take or not take; employers are generally free to negotiate sales commissions agreements with employees or sales representatives, which can provide for a range of percentages.

Under the Workers Adjustment & Retraining Act (WARN) (a.k.a. Plant Closure Law), what must be in the notices to the Dislocated Worker?

All notices submitted to the State Dislocated Worker Unit and the chief official of the local government must be in writing and include the following:

  • The name and address of the employment site where the plant closing or mass layoff will occur.
  • The name and phone number of a company official to contact for further information.

A statement if the action is expected to be permanent or temporary and, if the entire plant is affected.

What kind of lawyer do I need to sue my employer?

There are a variety of legal claims that you may have against your employer; the nature of your claim may determine the type of attorney that you may need in order to pursue your claim.  Some labor and employment lawyers handle all different types of employment claims, whereas other labor and employment lawyers handle very specific types of employment claims.  For instance, some lawyers might only handle wrongful termination cases, and others might specialize in sexual harassment claims.  Therefore, you can either contact an attorney who broadly practices in the area of labor and employment law, or an attorney who specializes in the type of employment claim that you want to pursue.