Failure to Pay Wages
Individuals become employees because they need to support themselves and their families. That’s how the United States’ economy works – individuals sell their labor to others, allowing them to live their chosen lifestyles and purchase goods and services from others, effectively paying other employees’ wages in the companies they patronize. When an employer fails to pay his or her employees’ wages, he or she is not living up to his or her responsibility as an employer and denying the employee a basic human right, the right to be compensated for his or her labor. This right is protected federally by the United States Department of Labor and in Washington by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.
Employees have the right to sue for any unpaid wages that they’re owed by their employers.49.48 RCW states all employers’ requirements and any exceptions to these responsibilities, as well as the penalties for not complying with them. If you’ve had your wages withheld or denied, the experienced employment attorneys at our firm can help you claim what’s rightfully yours.
Forms of Wage Denial
The compensation an employee receives from his or her employer is more than just a paycheck at the end of each billing cycle. Depending on the terms of the individual’s employment, he or she may be entitled to vacation time, sales commissions, tips, overtime pay, and breaks during the work day. Denial or withholding of any of these forms of compensation can be grounds for a lawsuit.
In Washington, any employee who works for five or more hours is entitled to a meal break that must last at least thirty minutes. This break must occur between two and five hours from the beginning of the employee’s shift. If the employee works three or more hours longer than what could be considered a normal-length work day, he or she must also receive an additional thirty minute meal break. Certain classes of employees are exempt from this requirement. Newspaper carriers and vendors, private domestic help, employees in sheltered workshops, and agricultural laborers are all exempt from this requirement.
Paying any employee less than the state-mandated minimum wage of $9.32, unless the employee is less than sixteen years old, is a form of wage theft. In Washington, fourteen and fifteen-year-old employees may be paid 85% of the current minimum wage, or $7.92. Misidentifying employees as different types, such as independent contractors, in an attempt to withhold benefits or other forms of compensation is also wage theft. Illegal deductions, pressuring employees to not seek deserved workers’ compensation, and refusing to pay overtime rate for hours worked beyond the normal workweek are all forms of wage theft. It is illegal and unfair to employees.
Employment Attorneys Can Help
If you’ve had your wages or other work-related benefits withheld, call HKM Employment Attorneys LLP at 206-838-2504 for help. Our team is here to help you claim the compensation that you’ve earned. Don’t let your employer deny you the pay you deserve – call HKM Employment Attorneys LLP today to start working on your case.
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