The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and North Carolina Wage and Hour Act (NCWHA) govern the payment of wages and benefits for workers. The FLSA requires employers to pay the minimum wage and overtime for each hour worked in excess of 40 per week. The NCWHA expands upon the federal law and provides greater protections to employees for other forms of compensation violations including but not limited to unpaid bonuses, commissions, vacation pay or other promised wages.
An employer is obligated to pay employees at least the minimum wage for all hours worked and time and one-half overtime compensation for all hours worked in excess of 40 per workweek. Employers are not obligated to pay employees more than that required by the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions, nor is an employer obligated to compensate an employee with vacation pay, sick leave, or other wage benefits.
Although an employer is only required to pay its employees the legally required minimum wage and overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 per week, most employers expand upon these basic requirements. Some examples of other wages that employers provide include vacation pay, sick pay, jury duty pay, holiday pay, shift differential pay, bonuses, commissions, or mileage and other compensation.
Once an employer promises to compensate an employee in excess of that required by minimum wage and overtime laws, the employee must be pay all promised wage benefits according to the requirements of the NCWHA. An employer must continue paying such additional compensation until such time as the employer changes its compensation policy in compliance with North Carolina law. If an employer compensates an employee with a wage in excess of minimum wage, that increased wage must be used in determining the overtime rate. For example, an employee paid $30.00 per hour must be paid $45.00 per hour for all hours worked in excess of 40 per workweek.
Importantly, the reduction of an employee’s wages or other compensation cannot have retroactive application. Wages or other benefits cannot be reduced until after notification has been properly given to the employee pursuant to the NCWHA. If an employer fails to pay promised wages, you may be awarded liquidated damages (twice the amount of unpaid wages).
Our law firm offers free consultations for employee’s denied wages and may take these matters on a contingency basis, meaning no fees are owed unless we recover compensation for you. Contact our firm today to speak to an experienced employment trial lawyer.