Our firm represents workers who have not been properly been paid by their employers. Wage and hour litigation have played an increasingly important role in enforcing state and federal wage protections for workers. Depending on the type of unpaid wages, employees can file claims under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act (NCWHA), or both the FLSA and NCWHA.
Common violations of the FLSA include:
- Minimum wage violations: The FLSA establishes requirements for minimum wage which employers may try to skirt by requiring working “off the clock”
- Overtime violations: The FLSA also establishes requirements for overtime at “time and a half” for all hours worked over 40 hours per week for certain employees.
North Carolina has even stronger protections for aggrieved workers. In addition to minimum wage and overtime rules like the FLSA, the NCWHA provides for protections for earned bonuses, earned commissions, and promised paid-time-off.
Common violations of the NCWHA include:
- Failure to Pay Earned Commissions: the NCWHA requires all commissions to be paid on the first pay period after they become earned.
- Improper Reductions of Bonuses: earned bonuses cannot be reduced or rescinded.
- Improper Tip-Sharing: North Carolina only allows tips to be shared amongst employees that assist in serving customers as part of their regular job responsibilities.
Oftentimes, the amounts that are owed may not warrant litigation on an individual basis. For example, if a large employer requires employees to work off-the-clock for 15 minutes per shift, it may result in only a few hundred dollars over the course of a year for an employee. However, this adds up quickly when multiplied by hundreds or thousands of workers.
A class action lawsuit allows a group of workers who have suffered similar harm to come together and pursue their claims in a single court action. Suits brought under the FLSA and NCWHA are one of the most common types of workplace class action.
The FLSA specifically outlines the process for creating a class action, called a “collective action” by the law, over wage and hour violations which can be substantially different from typical class actions under the NCWHA. With FLSA collective actions, an employee must prove that other current or former employees were “similarly situated.” If a court determines they are, conditional certification will be granted and the Plaintiff will send notices to potential class members, who must opt-in to the lawsuit.
In class actions under the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act, employees do not need to “opt-in” to the lawsuit. Instead, if they desire to be excluded from the lawsuit, they must “opt-out.”
Damages under the FLSA and the NCWAHA include the unpaid wages plus liquidated damages equal to what is owed in unpaid wages—essentially “double damages”—plus attorneys’ fees and costs.
Our attorneys can help determine whether a case can be commenced for violations of the FLSA and/or NCWHA. Please contact us at 919.526.0450, by email us at email@example.com, or through our contact page.