Labor laws are pretty clear about how employees are to be compensated. They define wages, minimum wage laws, overtime compensation and other specific requirements for employer-employee relationships. Failing to meet wage and hour requirements is a serious blunder on the part of any company which shows, at the very least, a lack of value for the company’s employees. A former employee is suing their ex-employer, American Mussel Harvesters, for violation of fair compensation laws, failure to pay minimum wage and entitled overtime for hours worked.
Fair Compensation Laws
The federal and state government has a strict list of fair compensation laws and regulations that outline the minimum wage a worker must be paid, and how they should be compensated for overtime work. These laws fall under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and, in this case, the Rhode Island Minimum Wage Act.
The ex-worker has filed suit in U.S. District Court for violation of these labor standards laws, claiming that he was routinely asked to work late and put in as much as 70-hour work weeks on average. The suit also alleges that there were two Sundays that staff was made to work with no pay whatsoever. He claims that accurate records of this time were not kept and that the staff was paid only for a standard 40-hour week regardless of how long they worked.
The staff member was paid $10 per hour, less than Rhode Island’s minimum wage, which the company claimed was legal because they paid him for a full week even when he worked less than 40 hours. He was, according to the suit, however, on the payroll as an hourly waged employee and not an overtime-exempt salaried worker.
The suit alleges that the company created these practices willfully and with full knowledge that they were illegally under-compensating their employees over the period between December 2013 and June 2015. Whether or not the allegations will hold up as violations in court remains to be seen at this time.
In the end, it’s best to simply compensate workers fairly for all work performed and is often better to go a little above and beyond. As the economy improves, more people are willing to leave jobs at which they are unhappy, and companies need to not only value their employees but show that they value them. If you are uncertain whether your labor and compensation practices are compliant, be sure to take the time to learn what needs to be done before an employee takes action against the company.