Florida workers who are not being paid proper wages for work they have been hired to perform can demand the compensation they are due by filing an unpaid wages claim or a lawsuit with the assistance of a Tallahassee unpaid wages lawyer.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards for employees in the private sector, including agricultural employment, and in federal, state, and local governments. The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) requires farm labor contractors, agricultural employers, and agricultural associations to pay workers the wages they are owed when due.
You can stop abuse by unethical or misinformed employers with the help of an experienced Tallahassee wage and hour attorney. At Cruz Law Firm, P.A., we focus on protecting your rights as an employee and pursuing the full compensation you deserve.
If you believe your employer is improperly withholding wages from you or the greater workforce at your place of employment, let us put our legal knowledge and skills to work for you. Meet with a Tallahassee unpaid wages attorney at Cruz Law to discuss legal remedies available to Florida workers. Contact Cruz Law today.
Basic Wage and Hour Laws for Florida Workers
Florida, like many U.S. states, has established a minimum wage that is higher than the federal standard of $7.25 per hour and which employers must pay their employees. Florida’s minimum wage is adjusted annually based on a set formula that will increase it from $11 to $12 per hour on September 30, 2023.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that covered nonexempt employees receive overtime pay at a rate not less than one and a half times the regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 hours per workweek. A workweek is any fixed and regularly recurring period of seven consecutive 24-hour periods.
Hours worked ordinarily include all the time during which an employee is required to be on the employer’s premises, on duty, or at a prescribed workplace. There is no limit on the number of hours employees 16 years or older may work in a workweek, but they must be compensated.
Florida labor laws require an employer to offer a 30-minute unpaid meal break to all employees younger than 18 years old. Neither federal nor Florida laws require employers to offer unpaid meal breaks to people aged 18 and older.
Common Unpaid Wage Disputes
Most unpaid wages disputes are about:
- Not paying at the required minimum wage rate. Day-rate workers and employees who receive tips are particularly susceptible to minimum wage violations.
- Not paying overtime pay. Employers often avoid paying overtime wages by incorrectly classifying employees as exempt from overtime requirements or as independent contractors.
- Not paying promised commissions, bonuses, or leave pay. This often occurs when a worker leaves a job. Earned and accrued commissions, bonuses, or leave time should not be reduced or recalculated retroactively.
- Not paying for all hours worked or forcing employees to work off the clock, such as asking an employee to arrive early to prepare for work or a special event or to stay late to clean up.
Employees who believe they are not being paid the wages they have been promised by an employer or that they are due according to state or federal law can seek redress by filing an unpaid wages lawsuit. The court may award the employee all of the compensation they are owed plus the same amount again in liquidated damages. If a worker is successful in recouping wages in court, he or she will also be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees and legal expenses.
A wronged employee may file a lawsuit individually, but sometimes a group of similarly mistreated employees can pursue a class action lawsuit.
How To Initiate a Claim for Unpaid Wages in Florida
If you have not been paid wages you are owed by an employer in violation of Florida’s minimum wage law, you must first notify your employer in writing of the problem and your intention to file a legal claim for the money. You need to state the total amount your employer owes you and the dates and hours of work that you were not properly paid for working. You should state that you are requesting payment of the unpaid wages. Your employer then has 15 days to respond to your request.
You should keep a copy of this letter and all documents you have that support your claim.
If your employer does not respond and pay what you are owed, then you have the right to proceed with a lawsuit.
For violations of the Florida Minimum Wage Act, you have four years from the date the claim arose to file a lawsuit. If you can prove that your employer willfully violated the Florida Minimum Wage Act, you have five years to file your claim.
For a claim about unpaid wages or overtime pay, there is no legal requirement to notify your employer of your intention to file a claim. However, it is always better to settle a dispute as simply as you can. Make your request in writing, stating the amount owed and dates and hours worked. Save a copy of this letter and any supporting documents.
Give your employer 15 days to respond, and if you are not satisfied, you have two years from the date of the pay discrepancy to file a lawsuit.
Class Action Lawsuits To Recover Unpaid Wages
If you are not being paid properly by your employer, it is likely that your co-workers are also being mistreated. The FLSA outlines the process for creating a type of class action lawsuit over wage and hour violations, known as a collective action.
As Cruz Law helps you develop your wage and hour lawsuit, we will work to determine whether other current or former employees at your workplace suffered similar harm. If so, we would ask the court to give your lawsuit collective action status, which is normally granted under a conditional certification. Then we could notify potential class members who must opt-in to the lawsuit.
In some cases, the Court will help assemble a class by requiring the company to post a notice and opt-in forms at work sites or to provide the plaintiff with contact information for their employees, so your legal team can contact them directly.
How an Unpaid Wages Lawyer Can Help You Recover the Wages You’re Owed
If you believe your employer owes you wages and your attempts to resolve the issue have failed, you should speak with an unpaid wages attorney. At Cruz law, we can review your case and determine the best way for you to seek to recover what you are owed. We’ll help you assemble documents and witnesses to support your case and help you file complaints with government agencies and, if necessary, pursue a lawsuit.
Options for legal action to recover unpaid wages include filing a complaint with the Florida Department of Labor or the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and filing a lawsuit. Typically, an employee would first file a complaint with their state’s Department of Labor and, if unsatisfied, seek relief from federal officials.
The DOL will review the employer’s practices over the previous two years to determine whether there are any wages owed to employees. The DOL can usually resolve cases administratively. If appropriate, the agency may file a lawsuit and/or recommend criminal prosecution. Employers who have willfully violated the law may be subject to criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment. The DOL can also force changes in a company’s policies to ensure wage and hour violations do not occur in the future.
The DOL has the authority to recover back wages and liquidated damages (additional compensation to be paid to employees) and to assess civil penalties to be paid to the government in instances of violation of minimum wage laws, overtime laws, or other violations.
All complaints to the federal or state DOL are confidential. The agencies investigate complaints and enforce the law without regard to an employee’s immigration status. It is illegal to retaliate against employees who file complaints and/or cooperate with a DOL investigation.
Contact a Tallahassee Unpaid Wages Lawyer
It can be difficult to stand up to an employer who is treating you wrongly. But if you are not being paid properly at work, a wage and hour attorney from Cruz Law Firm will stand up for your rights. We can review your case and evaluate your legal options for pursuing compensation and accountability from your employer. The law is on your side if you are not being paid correctly.
At Cruz Law Firm, we are committed to providing every client with dedicated, effective legal representation and personalized service, no matter how complex the case. Our attorneys represent hard-working employees like you in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and across the Florida Panhandle. Contact a Tallahassee unpaid wages lawyer with our law firm today.