Wage & Hour Law
State and federal employment laws govern the amount employers must pay their workers, both for regular work hours and overtime. Wage and hour laws also mandate that employers permit their employees to take regularly scheduled breaks, both paid and unpaid. When employers violate these laws, workers can take legal action to seek fair compensation for their lost wages and other damages.
At Charles W. Miller & Associates, our Louisville wage and hour law attorneys represent employees in all types of wage and hour disputes in both Kentucky and Indiana. We represent all types of workers in a variety of industries, including tipped employees, highly paid executives, physicians and medical professionals, office workers, and others. With over 22 year’s legal experience and employment law, our legal team can help you fully understand your legal rights and determine the best course of action for your unique situation. If necessary, we are prepared to represent you in state or federal court.
Minimum Wage & Tipped Workers
Federal minimum wage in the United States is currently $7.25/hour (as of 2019). This means that all employers in all 50 states must pay their employees no less than this amount (with some very limited exceptions). However, both Kentucky and Indiana allow what is known as a “tip credit.”
A tip credit allows employers to pay tipped workers (regardless of how much they receive in tips) less than the federal/state minimum wage, as long as the employee makes at least $7.25/hour in both tips and wages. If a tipped worker receives no tips during an hour of his or her shift, his or her employer must pay the full $7.25 for that hour. Under no circumstances does an employee have to accept less than the federal minimum wage for each hour of work he or she completes. This includes employer deductions for cash register shortages, product breakages, and hours in which an employee does not make at least $5.12/hour in tips.
Both Kentucky and Indiana allow for a tip credit of $5.12, meaning an employer may pay a tipped employee as little as $2.13/hour. This is the lowest hourly wage legally allowed in any U.S. state.
It is also important to note that, by law, tips are considered to belong to the employee who earned them, not the employer. In this vein, tip pooling (sharing tips amongst employees who regularly earn tips) is allowed. However, employees who do not regularly earn tips, such as cooks or dishwashers, cannot be included in a tip pool.
The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) dictates that employers must pay non-exempt employees overtime pay. This is carried out somewhat differently in each state but, in both Kentucky and Indiana, covered non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a week are entitled to receive overtime pay that equals one and a half times their normal hourly rate (or, “time and a half”). In Kentucky, specifically, covered employees are entitled to overtime when they work 7 days in a single week when they are also allowed to work more than 40 hours in that workweek.
Exempt employees are not entitled to overtime pay. While this varies from state to state (including key differences in Kentucky and Indiana exempt employee laws), exempt employees generally include:
- Those who primarily work in outside sales
- Administrative employees
- Retail store employees
- Restaurant and hotel employees
- Movie theater employees
- Special skill/knowledge salaried employees
- Employees who work on commission
- Medical interns and student nurses
- Religious workers
- Certain independent contractors
Additionally, employees whose work is largely managerial are typically exempt, as well as employees who earn a salary/pay that is above the federal and/or state threshold for non-exempt employees.
Breaks & Hour Laws
State wage and hour laws also govern mandatory breaks for employees. In Kentucky, employers must allow employees to take one short (less than 20 minutes) paid rest period for every four hours of work. Additionally, employees are permitted to take an unpaid meal break when they work any shift that is longer than five hours. There is no law that governs how long a meal break can/should be, but it must be “reasonable.” In Kentucky, workers must take this meal break between the third and fifth hours of the shift.
Indiana, in contrast, does not have laws regarding mandatory rest periods and/or meal breaks. Instead, such breaks are left up to the discretion of the employer. However, employers must still abide by OSHA guidelines permitting reasonable bathroom breaks for employees and, if an employer allows employees to take short rest periods (5-20 minutes), the employer must abide by federal law dictating that such rest periods are paid.
How Our Firm Can Help
If you believe your worker’s rights regarding minimum wage, tipped wages, overtime pay, rest periods and meal breaks, or any other hour and wage issue have been violated, contact Charles W. Miller & Associates. Our Louisville wage and hour law attorneys can help you determine if you have a case against your employer and, if so, can help you navigate the legal process. We are prepared to fight tirelessly for your rights.
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