Federal and State
Wage and Hour Laws
The first nationwide effort to regulate the workweek and how employees were paid came in response to the Great Depression with the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938. It established the workweek as 40 hours within any given seven-day period (168 hours). It also set a nationwide minimum hourly wage rate and mandated that employees who work more than 40 hours in a week be paid overtime at one-and-a-half times their regular rate.
The FLSA also allowed states to exceed the provisions of the FLSA but not to undercut them. Thus, many states currently have higher minimum wages than the federal rate of $7.25 an hour, and some even mandate overtime for any work over 8 hours in a single day.
Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 337.275 requires the state to match the federal minimum wage whenever it rises. Kentucky, however, also allows a “tipped” minimum wage of $2.13 an hour, provided tips bring the total wage to the federal minimum.
Exemptions and Overtime Provisions
Salaried employees engaged in administrative, professional, executive, or computer professional activities are exempt from the overtime requirement. Kentucky also exempts from overtime requirements employees in the retail, restaurant, hotel and motel operations, and those providing residential or in-home care.
Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 337.285 also mirrors the FLSA overtime standard but adds a provision requiring overtime for anyone who works the seventh day in a 7-day period, regardless of how many hours have been logged.
Employees in the Commonwealth of Kentucky must also receive a paid 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked, as well as an unpaid “reasonable” meal period between the third and fifth hour of work.
Employers by law cannot deduct from employees’ paychecks for:
- Cash shortages in a money till used by two or more persons
- Breakage and damaged property
- Losses from accepting a bad check
- Lost or stolen property
A few examples of violations
Over the last few years, there have been a few examples of successful challenges to wage-hour violations. Some of these examples include:
- Online computer techs expected to respond at a moment's notice, so that their time waiting to work counts toward overtime
- House painters paid a bonus instead of overtime
- Cable installers paid by the stop instead of being paid for their time
- Home health workers who attend meetings and do paperwork on their own time
- Lead people on an assembly line misclassified as "supervisors" to avoid overtime
And one more that matters in Kentucky's warehouses and logistics centers-
Warehouses and logistics centers handling packages and products may be screening for theft (or for other reasons) after workers end their shift. Screening after work is not a security issue for the workers' benefit. Thus, time spent waiting for and passing through screening may be compensable time, even if just a matter of minutes. Minutes add up.
Workers who aren't paid for these minutes may be entitled to minimum wage and/or overtime under our wage-hour laws.
Penalties for violations
You have two options for dealing with wage-and-hour violations in Kentucky. One is to file a complaint with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet for investigation and resolution. The other is to file a lawsuit against the employer.
If you decide on the lawsuit option, Kentucky Revised Statutes require the employer to be “liable to such employee affected for the full amount of such wages and overtime compensation, less any amount actually paid to such employee by the employer, for an additional equal amount as liquidated damages, and for costs and such reasonable attorney's fees as may be allowed by the court.”
Liquidated damages essentially mean you are entitled to double the amount that was due but not paid to you. In addition, the employer must pay your attorney for handling the case, subject to court guidelines and limits.
Work with An Attorney
Who Knows The Law
Don’t let your employer get away with cheating you: do it for yourself, and for those who follow you. If you find yourself on the short end of an employer’s decision to underpay you, contact me immediately. We can meet to discuss your situation, explore all of your legal options, and take your employer to court if necessary. Don’t face this battle on your own. Contact my office today for help!