Kentucky Wage Theft Attorneys
When a workplace arrangement functions as intended, both the employer and the employee receive everything for which they have bargained. Employers provide a set level of compensation, and in exchange, employees render a defined level of services.
Unfortunately, there are far too many instances in which employers attempt to leverage their position of power to deny workers fair payment that has been duly earned. If you have not been paid the wages you are owed, a Kentucky wage theft lawyer can help you fight back.
Employee Safeguards Under State and Federal Law
According to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, employers must compensate workers at a minimum level which individual states are permitted to adjust upward. Employees are entitled to earn the greater of the federal or state minimum wage in effect at any given time. Kentucky Revised Statutes §337.275 provides that whenever the federal wage is increased, the Kentucky rate will rise to ensure parity.
Tipped employees are permitted to be paid a lower hourly wage, but the addition of tips must be sufficient to bring the total amount of compensation up to at least the statutory minimum. It is important to note that employers who opt to pay employees in this manner must keep detailed records to verify compliance with wage rate requirements.
Kentucky Overtime Regulations
Another key consideration when it comes to allegations of wage theft has to do with overtime hours. Kentucky Revised Statutes §337.285 prohibits employers forcing employees to work in excess of 40 hours a week unless those hours are paid at a rate of no less than one and one-half times the applicable wage. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, for employees who:
- Work in retail establishments
- Work in restaurants and hotels
- Are independent contractors
- Are employed by third-party agencies to provide companionship assistance in the homes of elderly or sick individuals
- Provide 24-hour residential care to abused/neglected children in licensed facilities
- Are casual babysitters
- Are working in small-sized businesses that do not get involved interstate commerce
- Are working with small farm enterprises
Problematic Frequency of Wage Theft Scenarios
Wage theft cases are perhaps the most common of those handled by employment attorneys. While theft of this type can happen in any industry or business sector, it routinely victimizes individuals in food service, janitorial service, home healthcare, retail and agricultural realms. Employers who commit wage theft are frequently found to have:
- Compensated employees at an insufficient rate
- Failed to pay minimum wage
- Made unlawful deductions from pay
- Mischaracterized employment status to avoid paying minimum wage/overtime
- Withheld commission payments, overtime pay or other benefits
Available Remedies for Wage Theft Victims
Pursuant to federal and state statute, employees who have had wages stolen in any of the above ways are entitled to pursue back wages as well as the imposition of penalties against the offending employer.
In Kentucky, aggrieved employees may seek liquidated damages in an amount equal to the wages they were wrongfully denied. An employer may attempt to defend against such a claim by claiming that it acted only in good faith and was under a justifiable belief that no laws were being broken.
Wronged employees may wish to file a claim with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet or proceed to the filing of a lawsuit. Because there are strict time limits in place for those planning to fight for back wages and other compensation, it is important for workers to consult with an experienced employment attorney who can promptly initiate appropriate action against unscrupulous employers.
Fighting for Fair Treatment of Kentucky Workers
An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay is a principal upon which our society relies. However, when employees suffer due to an imbalance of power in the workplace, they can end up being cheated out of the wages they have earned fairly and squarely.
If you have been exploited by not being paid what was owed to you, an employment lawyer at Employment and Consumer Law Group is prepared to advocate on your behalf.
For more information, contact us today.