Have you been paid less than the minimum wage for work in Louisiana? Have you not been paid overtime you believe you are owed? Did a business close down before paying you wages that you earned? Has your employer misclassified you as a “independent contractor” or supervisor/assistant manager, etc. in order to avoid paying you overtime? Has an employer asked you to work off the clock or required you to hand over your tips?
If any of these have happened to you or a family member, get the advice of an experienced Louisiana employment law attorney who can help you understand if you have a case and how to pursue the wages you earned and any other compensation you may be due.
What Is Wage Theft?
Any time a worker is not paid wages (in part or in full) that he or she has earned that is wage theft. Based on a 2017 study of the 10 largest states, the Economic Policy Institute estimates that U.S. workers lose nearly $15 billion to wage theft each year. That’s nearly as much as all property theft combined. According to the study, a typical worker who experiences wage theft is cheated out of $3,300 a year. It’s easy to see how unpaid overtime, “off the clock” work or “pooling tips” can really add up.
The Minimum Wage In Louisiana
Louisiana has not adopted a state minimum wage, instead workers in the state are entitled to the federal minimum wage which is currently $7.25 per hour for covered, “nonexempt” employees. Non-exempt employees are workers who have not specifically been hired as managerial employees who receive a set salary rather than hourly pay and so are exempt from overtime and other rules.
The minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour in direct compensation, as long as this amount plus tips equals at least the minimum wage, the employee keeps all tips, and the employee regularly receives more than $30 a month in tips.
Employers whose workers earn close to the minimum wage who ask those workers to work off the clock are violating federal minimum wage law, as are employers who pay the tipped minimum wage and ask workers to hand over any part of their tips, or who don’t ensure their workers tips and wages add up to $7.25 an hour.
Living Wage For City Contract Workers In New Orleans
While Louisiana state law currently prohibits city and local governments from setting a minimum wage for private employers, a City of New Orleans has a living wage ordinance. It went into effect in 2016 and requires employers who do significant business with the city to pay covered employees a living wage and provide them with at least seven days of paid leave each year.
Employers covered under the ordinance include companies with city contracts over $25,000 a year and organizations that receive more than $100,000 in municipal financial assistance a year. The city’s current living wage is set each year according to the consumer price index and is currently $11.19 per hour.
If you work for a city of New Orleans contractor or organization that receives grants from the city and you have not been paid the living wage or given seven days of paid leave per year, you may be entitled to back pay and other compensation.
Misclassified As A Manager Or “Independent Contractor” In Louisiana?
Misclassification is one of the most common and pernicious forms of wage theft. By misclassifying an employee as an “independent contractor,” bad employers avoid paying overtime and exclude workers of many federal worker protections, such as minimum wage, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance guarantees.
“Independent contractor” misclassification is a common problem in the construction, real estate, home care, and trucking industries. For example, in 2019, one framing and drywall contractor operating in Louisiana was ordered to pay $178,766 in back wages to 108 employees for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by misclassifying employees and not paying them overtime.
Louisiana Employer Withholding Final Paycheck
According to Louisiana law, an employer must pay all owed wages within 15 days after employment ends or on the next regular payday, whichever comes first. This applies whether you quit, or have been terminated or laid off. If your former employer fails to meet this deadline, you can be awarded up to one day’s wages on top of what is owed to you for every day your final paycheck is late (up to 90 days).
Other Wage And Hour Violations In Louisiana
Other methods employers have used to cheat workers out of wages include illegal paycheck deductions and off-the-clock work. Expenses like workers compensation insurance and unemployment insurance are supposed to be paid directly by the employer and not passed on to workers as a line item on their pay stub, in the way that federal and state income taxes and Medicare are. It’s always a good idea to inspect your pay stub to make sure your hours and wages are correct and any deductions make sense to you.
If your employer regularly asks you to work through your break, come in early without clocking in, or work after you’ve clocked out, your employer could be committing a wage and hour violation. It can feel uncomfortable to say no to such requests (like you’re not being a “team player”), it could even feel like your job is on the line if you refuse. But your boss asking you to work for free is taking advantage and it is stealing. You, your family, and your coworkers deserve better. And you can seek compensation for all your unpaid wages and up to that amount in additional compensation for liquidated damages (for financial hardship you’ve experienced because of the stolen wages).
How To Recover Your Wages In Louisiana
If you are owed wages, you can either file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor or file a lawsuit. An attorney experienced in Louisiana employment law can help you decide the best course of action, and file a claim or a lawsuit seeking to collect your unpaid wages. If you win your case, the judge can make your employer pay some or all of your attorneys’ fees.
Call Charbonnet Law Firm Today
Call Charbonnet Law Firm today and speak with a member of our dedicated team of attorneys. At Charbonnet, our first priority is helping you recover what is owed to you for your hard work. We will help you understand your employment law case, your options, and how to move forward. You deserve the peace of mind of having our trusted, skilled team of attorneys fighting for you.