Employment Law 101: Kentucky Labor Laws Guide

a woman upset at coworker

Kentucky employees have laws that protect them from the wrongdoings of an employer. If an employee isn’t paid for the work they performed, faced discrimination, or was wrongfully terminated, they can take legal action against their employer. Our Kentucky employment law attorneys have put together the basics of Kentucky employment law to help workers.


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects U.S. workers from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex (and pregnancy), disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, and religion. Sexual orientation and transgender status are also protected categories under the Civil Rights Act.

Under Kentucky’s Civil Rights Act, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a worker for various reasons, including:

  • Being over the age of 40
  • Having AIDS/HIV status
  • Being a smoker or nonsmoker
  • Using tobacco products while not on duty

If you have experienced discrimination for any of the reasons above, our team at Charles W. Miller & Associates can help you fight against your employer’s wrongdoing.

Wage-Hour Violations

Wage violations are another common employment law issue workers face. Below we list the Kentucky wage and hour laws.

Minimum Wage

In Kentucky, the minimum wage is $7.25/hour; employers must pay their employees no less than this amount. However, there is an exception to minimum wage pay for tipped employees. Tipped workers can be paid less than the federal minimum wage, as long as the employee makes at least $7.25/hour with both tips and wages. In Kentucky, the minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour; however, if the employee doesn’t earn at least $7.25 per hour, the employer makes up the difference.

Overtime Pay

Employers must pay non-exempt employees overtime pay, according to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In Kentucky, non-exempt employees must receive overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week or work seven days in a single week.

Breaks & Hour Laws

In Kentucky, employers must allow employees to take a short (less than 20 minutes) paid rest period for every four hours worked. Employees are also allowed to take an unpaid lunch break when they work any shift that is longer than five hours. If your employer doesn’t let you take breaks or makes you work during your meal break, you may have an unpaid wage claim.

Sexual Harassment

If you are a victim of workplace sexual harassment, you have rights that protect you. It is illegal under both state and federal law to harass a worker sexually. Sexual harassment occurs when the working environment is made hostile because of its sexual nature. This can occur by sharing sexual photographs, making certain comments or jokes, or physical touching.

Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination occurs when your employer has no legal grounds to terminate you. For example, wrongful termination may include firing a worker for discriminatory purposes or as a mode of sexual harassment. Wrongful termination also occurs when an employer fires a worker for making a written or oral employment complaint.

Wrongful termination cases can be complex because Kentucky is an “at-will” state. This means that employers can legally terminate an employee for almost any cause, or even no cause at all. However, if you were terminated for any of the reasons listed above, you may have a wrongful termination case.

Kentucky Employment Law Attorney

If you are facing an employment law issue, whether it’s unpaid wages, discrimination, or retaliation, our Kentucky employment law attorneys are here to help you. We can help you assert your rights to lost wages and other damages to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.

Contact our Kentucky employment lawyers today at (502) 890-9954 to schedule a case review!

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