At Work

In Pursuit of Financial Freedom – Employment Law Issues to Look Out For

Money is often one of the main stressors in a person’s life. Working toward financial stability can alleviate this stress and help you feel more secure in all other areas of your life. The idea of financial freedom can feel like an unattainable goal, but by taking the right steps, it is possible. 

One thing that may be keeping you from your goal of financial freedom is unpaid wages. Unfortunately, employers accidentally or intentionally fail to pay employees wages that they deserve all the time. This happens with different types of jobs and in many different industries. For example: 

  • 14% of all food and drink service workers suffer minimum wage violations–the highest of all industries. In 2019, over 40,000 food service workers were either not paid minimum wage or not paid for their overtime. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the amount of back pay owed to these workers was over $42 million! 
  • Thousands of construction workers are not paid minimum wage or paid for their overtime. In 2019, unpaid wages owed to construction workers across the country exceeded $38 million!
  • California has more minimum wage violations than any other state–According to the Economic Policy Institute, workers miss out on over $1.9 million in wages due to minimum wage violations every year! 
  • In 2019, the Wage and Hour Division of the federal government recovered $322 million in back wages for workers in the United States–This means on average, workers were owed $1,025 in backpay, the equivalent of two to three paychecks for many housekeepers, janitors, landscapers, cashiers and other workers!  

As you take steps to improve your financial situation and work toward financial freedom, it is important to be aware of these facts–it is possible that you too could be missing out on unpaid wages. These unpaid wages can be key to helping you move forward to a more secure financial future. To avoid missing out on wages you deserve, be sure to: 

  • Pay attention to your paycheck–You should be paid for every hour you work, including overtime! 
  • Be aware of minimum wage–You have a right to be paid minimum wage for the work you do. Take time to find out the required minimum wage for your home state so you aren’t unknowingly being underpaid! 
  • Make sure you are classified as the correct type of employee–sometimes an employer may try to classify you as an exempt employee to avoid having to pay you overtime. However, if you are an hourly, non-professional worker, you are most likely a non-exempt worker, which means you have a right to both minimum wage and overtime pay. Don’t let your employer try to tell you otherwise! 

The reality of how common it is for workers to have unpaid wages is both shocking and incredibly frustrating, especially if you are trying to become financially independent. Every dollar is important when you have a goal to reach financial stability. You could be missing out on a significant amount of income simply because your employer fails to pay you the minimum wage or overtime wages you deserve.If you are in this situation, it is important to talk to an experienced employment law attorney – you deserve to get paid a fair wage and for every hour you work. The money you missed out on can be extremely useful and help you achieve your goals of financial freedom and independence.  

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