The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets out strict guidelines for how employees must be compensated for their work. For example, to comply with the federal law, employers must pay each employee a minimum of $7.25 per hour. Employees who work over 40 hours per week must be paid a higher overtime rate unless their position is specifically classified as exempt. In addition to FLSA, Oregon has its own state laws mandating its own minimum wage guidelines. In fact, Oregon has one of the highest state minimum wage rates in the United States at $8.95 per hour. That means that an employer must pay each employee at least $8.95 to be in compliance with both federal and state laws. If your employer violates state law, you will want to file a claim with the Wage and Hour Division of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries to try to get the compensation to which you were entitled by law.
How to File a Complaint
Any employee who has not received adequate hourly or overtime payments may file a complaint. Even if your employer could not pay you because they went out of business, you may file to receive your final unpaid wages from the Wage Security Fund. The Oregon Legislature established this fund in 1985 for the specific reason of protecting employees when businesses shut down without sufficient funds to pay employees their final checks. Employees may be eligible to receive up to $4,000 each for any work they performed (for which they were not reimbursed) during the final 60 days the employer was in business. This situation arises more frequently than one may think, as evidenced by the fact that the Wage Security Fund has paid over 14,000 Oregon employees more than $14 million in benefits.
If your employer has not gone out of business and is simply refusing to adequately pay you, you must file a complaint in a timely fashion. You must also include any evidence possible to corroborate your allegations. Such evidence can include:
-Witness statements, such as co-workers
-Any other records or documents
The Bureau of Labor and Industries will take your evidence into consideration as they conduct an investigation into the validity of your claims.
Not everyone may file a complaint for unpaid wages, however. For example, your complaint will not be accepted if it is against a partner, close relative, or if you were considered self-employed in any way. Furthermore, you must ensure that you answer every question with complete accuracy and provide a complete explanation in order to warrant an investigation. Often this process is complicated and confusing, and therefore if you believe you have a wage and hour complaint, you should first consult with an employment attorney regarding your case. Do not hesitate to call our office to schedule a consultation.