Wage theft is rampant across the country, and it seems that not a single month passes in St. Louis without an employer being sued for failing to pay proper wages. According to the Economic Policy Institute, wage theft costs American workers as much as $50 billion annually. Unfortunately, wage theft is not easy to identify, but when it is properly identified, it may serve as the basis for a lawsuit.
If you believe that your employer may not be paying you a fair share of your wages, you should contact an employment law attorney to discuss your options. You deserve to be compensated by your employer for any work you perform. Wage theft is illegal and a lawsuit may be brought in a Missouri court.
Overview of the Wage and Hour Laws Most Relevant to Wage Theft Scenarios
Many different laws are applicable to wage payments in Missouri. The first and most important law is the minimum wage law. While the federal minimum wage is $7.25, Missouri’s minimum wage is $7.70. The minimum wage is calculated on an hourly basis and has few exceptions (some exceptions include those for certain agricultural workers or tipped employees). For employees not working on an hourly basis who instead earn wages via commissions, the Missouri Sales Commission laws ensure prompt payment of all earned commissions.
The overtime laws are also relevant to wage theft scenarios. Where employees work in excess of a 40-hour workweek, employees are entitled to one and a half times their normal rates of pay. Employers not promptly paid overtime may request prompt payment and compensation under Missouri’s minimum wage laws regardless of whether they are minimum wage earners.
Two lesser-known wage payment statutes are also monitored less frequently than others. First, Missouri law requires factory employees to be paid wages at least every 15 days. Second, corporate employers must give at least 30-days’ notice to employees before lowering their wages or face a minor civil penalty.
Most Common Types of Wage Theft
Employers are continuously inventing new ways to avoid wage theft laws, and simply because a particular wage theft strategy is uncommon does not mean it is legal. If something feels wrong, it may very well be so. While there are many different types of wage theft, several types of claims tend to be more common than others.
Break time violations are particularly common. In general, all breaks that take less than 20 minutes are compensable time. This includes breaks to put on and take off security gear or work-required clothing. It also includes breaks where employees do non-work-related activities such as smoking or snacking.
Additionally, in the age of technology, after-hours communications with employers or doing work remotely via email or cell phone is compensable time. Many employers do not recognize after hours work as compensable; however, it generally tends to be so.
Finally, employers are often slow to pay wages after an employee is fired. Occasionally, employers will fail to pay due wages at all after terminating employees. In general, all past-due and earned wages must be paid promptly upon firing under Missouri’s Prompt Payment Laws. Upon a written demand for payment, the employer must make payment within seven days.
Now is the Time to Contact a St. Louis Unpaid Wage Lawyer Today
If your employer is refusing to properly compensate you for the hours you spent working, you need to take action and schedule an appointment with HKM Employment Attorneys LLP. Our law firm is comprised of skilled and seasoned St. Louis employment attorneys who take pride in helping clients with wage theft claims. For immediate assistance, do not hesitate to contact our team today.