In an ideal world, there would be no issues regarding compensation for work. You would go to work when you are supposed to, and in exchange, your employer would pay you your agreed-upon wage when he or she was supposed to do so. Unfortunately, due to problems of budgetary mismanagement on employers’ parts, some workers have found that getting paid is not quite that simple. That is why it is important for all employees to understand their rights when it comes to issues like furloughs and reductions in pay. It is important to note that if you are a member of a labor union, you may have additional contractual rights in addition to the rights discussed here.
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The Fair Labor Standards Act and You
If you are facing a furlough or your employer is saying it may not pay you despite your having worked, the Fair Labor Standards Act is the federal law that provides you your rights and protections in this situation. As a general rule, under this law an employer has to pay non-exempt employees at least the full federal minimum wage and any statutory overtime due on the regularly scheduled pay day of a work week that is in question, even if the employer is having a hard time making payroll.
Certain employees are exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act, like some executive and administrative employees, attorneys, and other professionals, but most workers are non-exempt workers. Generally speaking, exempt employees must be paid if they work. Deductions of pay of exempt employees can lead to the employee no longer being considered exempt, although the length of the loss of exemption depends on the exact circumstances.
What Happens If an Employer Does Not Follow the Law?
There are a few remedies if an employer does not follow the law when it comes to paying its employees. The Secretary of Labor may file a lawsuit on your behalf. If you file a complaint or provide information during an investigation, you will have whistleblower protections. You yourself can file suit to recover back wages and liquidated damages plus attorney’s fees and court costs, although state employees are often barred from bringing these kinds of suits. If an employer has a history of this kind of behavior it may face a civil or even criminal penalty. This means that bosses who do this sort of thing may wind up being fined, or could even wind up incarcerated for their bad behavior.
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