Wage and Hour Law, including Minimum Wage and Overtime Laws
Wage and hour laws apply to everyone who works. However, there are some common violations. To determine whether you are paid in violation of the law, answer these questions:
DO ANY OF THE FOLLOWING OCCUR:
- Do you work more than 40 hours per week?
- Do you receive only a salary which does not pay you extra for your overtime hours?
- Are you performing mostly the same work as hourly workers?
If you answered “Yes” to all these questions, your employer might be violating your employment rights under federal and Connecticut wage and hour law.
Wage and Hour Law
Workers have a right to be properly paid for doing their job. There are both federal and Connecticut laws that define what “properly paid” means. Employers must pay at least minimum wage for all hours worked, and they must pay overtime premiums (time and a half) for hours worked over 40 per week, unless the employee fits into one of a few narrow exemption. If you are not being properly paid, an employment lawyer can help you recover what you’re owed.
Connecticut Wage and Hour Lawyer
The Connecticut wage and hour lawyers at Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore can help. Our aggressive and knowledgeable attorneys will fight for your rights if you’ve been denied overtime pay or have not been paid for all the hours you worked. Contact us by filling out our online form.
We are proud to represent clients who have been improperly denied pay throughout Connecticut, including Middlesex, Milford, Stamford, and Bridgeport. Our offices are located in Hartford and New Haven.
Federal and Connecticut Wage and Hour Laws
The Fair Labor Standards Act is a federal law that requires employers to pay a minimum wage to employees and to pay them overtime premiums when they work more than 40 hours in a week unless the employee meets one of a few narrowly defined exemptions, as determined by their job duties.
However, Connecticut state law is often more stringent than federal law. Connecticut has a higher minimum wage that federal law dictates, among other variations.
The State of Connecticut’s minimum wage became $9.60 per hour in 2016. In 2017, the wage will rise to $10.10. There are exceptions, most notably for servers, waiters, and bartenders, for whom tips are factored into their pay. The minimum wage for servers is $6.07, and $7.82 for bartenders.
Both state and federal law require an employer to pay a nonexempt employee overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Overtime pay is time-and-a-half — if you make $12 per hour, you should be paid $18 per hour for your overtime work.
Overtime kicks in whether or not your boss approved it. You cannot be denied pay at an overtime rate once you have worked more than 40 hours. Employers must pay for all time worked, not just time scheduled. If your employer uses an automatic time clock system that does not take into account all time, you may be owed back pay.
The employer must pay for all hours worked, including time when the employee is donning and doffing protective gear. For example, Steve works in a chemical plant and must wear extensive safety gear that stays in a company locker room. The company requires him to arrive to work, put on all his gear and then clock in. He then must clock out and then remove the gear. Steve may have a claim against his employer for the time he spent donning and doffing his safety gear.
Meetings and training also fall under the category of work. The employer may not refuse to pay you if you are in training.
Exemptions for Connecticut Employees
There are a few exemptions, for which an employer is not required to pay overtime pay. Usually, these exemptions are based on the employee’s duties.
Some of the exemptions and their criteria include:
Executive Exemption (usually applies to employees who manage others)
To qualify, the employee must:
- Be compensated, on a salary basis, at least $475 per week;
- Have a primary duty that is either managing an entire enterprise or managing a recognizable department or subdivision of the enterprise;
- Direct the work of at least two full-time employees or the equivalent; and
- Have the authority to hire and fire, or his or her opinion must have a particular weight on employment decisions of other employees.
Administrative Exemption (usually applies to people who don’t produce the product or service that the company sells)
To be exempt, the employee must:
- Earn at least $475 per week on a salary basis;
- Have a primary duty of performing office or non-manual work that is directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers; and
- Have a primary duty that requires exercise of discretion and independent judgment on matters of significance.
Learned Professional Exemption (usually applies to lawyers, doctors, accountants)
To qualify for the exemption, the employee must:
- Be paid, on a salary basis, no less than $475 per week;
- Have a primary duty that is work requiring advanced knowledge that is intellectual and requires use of discretion and judgment, and that advanced knowledge must:
- Be in a field of science or learning; and
- Be obtained through long courses of intellectual instruction.
Creative Professional Exemption (usually applies to artists, some photographers, some journalists)
For this exemption, the employee must:
- Be paid, on either a salary or fee basis, at least $475 per week; and
- Have a primary duty that is work requiring invention, imagination, originality or talent in an artistic or creative field.
Highly Compensated Employees
Employees who make $100,000 per year or more who perform at least one of the duties above are exempt, as long as they make at least $475 per week in salary or fees.
Outside Sales Exemption
For this exemption, the employee must:
- Have a primary duty that is making sales or obtaining orders or contracts for services or for the use of facilities; and
- Be customarily and regularly engaged away from the employer’s place of business.
Inside Sales Exemption
In Connecticut, the “inside sales” exemption permits an employer to avoid overtime pay to inside sales persons for whom the following is true:
- Their sole duty must be to sell a product or service,
- Their total weekly pay must be greater than twice the minimum wage for all hours worked,
- More than half their pay must be commissions
- They must not work more than 54 hours per week.(the precise language of the law is below)
Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 31-76i (g) any inside salesperson whose sole duty is to sell a product or service (1) whose regular rate of pay is in excess of two times the minimum hourly rate applicable to him under section 31- 58, (2) more than half of whose compensation for a representative period, being not less than one month, represents commissions on goods or services, and (3) who does not work more than fifty-four hours during a work week of seven consecutive calendar days. In determining the proportion of compensation representing commissions, all earnings resulting from the application of a bona fide commission rate shall be deemed commissions on goods or services without regard to whether the computed commissions exceed the draw or guarantee;…
In Connecticut, this law is often violated when someone is given duties other than sales, for example, management work.
The overtime that is paid must include the commissions and not be based simply on the hourly rate. So, if your hourly rate is $10 and you earned $500 in commissions in a week in which you worked 50 hours, your overtime rate for your ten hours of overtime shouldn’t be just $15 (one and a half times your hourly rate) but should be one and half times $20 (since the $500 divided by 50 hours adds $10 to your base rate).
Misclassification of Connecticut Employees
Employers will sometimes misclassify employees as exempt in an effort to avoid paying overtime. This might occur if the employee has a title that implies some sort of executive role, like “assistant manager.” However, the title does not determine whether the employee is exempt. If the employee’s duties do not meet the criteria, the employee must be paid for the number of hours worked, and for overtime.
If an employer misclassifies an employee and fails to pay them when they work over 40 hours per week, that employer may owe the employee for unpaid hours, including overtime pay.
Whether an employee is exempt will depend on the actual duties he or she performs on the job – not the duties in his or her job description, or the duties the employer intended the employee to have when hiring for the position.
Nonexempt duties can include typing, filing, telemarketing, working as a cashier, preparing food, telemarketing, and bookkeeping. If an employee spends a significant amount of time doing these duties, he or she may not be exempt from overtime rules.
For example, Trisha works as a salesperson in the women’s clothing department in a department store in Norwalk, making sales and stocking the women’s clothing section. She makes $10 per hour, but works overtime frequently and usually makes about $550 per week. She is “promoted” to assistant manager. Her employer claims an “executive” exemption, even though she still makes sales and stocks the department, with no one working under her. Trisha now has a salary of $500 per week and makes no overtime. Trisha might have a claim against her employer.
Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, Representative Results
At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, there are a few different types of lawsuits we file on behalf of workers. We represent individual workers who have been wrongfully denied pay. We also often represent several employees with the same job deprived of wages in the same way, often in a class action suit.
Here are a few examples of the results we have won for our clients:
- Won judgment for CAD draftsman who was denied overtime. Set precedent under FLSA.
- Obtained settlement for worker who was not paid her “on call” hours.
- Obtained settlement for insurance underwriter who was not paid overtime wages.
- Obtained settlement for insurance employee who simply arranged meeting of IT professionals but was not herself an IT professional.
- Obtained $1,500,000 settlement for auto appraisers who were classified as exempt and denied overtime pay.
- Obtained $2,000,000 settlement for Assistant Managers at grocery chain.
- Obtained settlement for restaurant worker no paid full minimum wage for side work.
- Obtained settlement for nurses who were classified as exempt by insurance company and denied overtime.
- Obtained settlement for class of delivery drivers for bakery who were classified as independent contractors.
We are currently representing employees in multiple class actions and collective actions. To see ongoing litigation, click here.
Recent Developments in Connecticut Wage and Hour Law
In July 2015, President Obama announced revisions to federal overtime rules. The revisions greatly increase the minimum threshold for an exempt employee to $47,892 per year, doubling the threshold. It will rise to $50,440 in 2016. Employees who work more than 40 hours per week and earn less than that amount should receive overtime pay for any time over 40 hours per week they earn. Read more about this revision here.
Resources for Overtime and Wage Law
Connecticut Department of Labor: This agency enforces state laws pertaining to wage and hour law. The agency also promulgates rules and regulations pertaining to employment law. The Labor Commissioner, who is appointed by the governor, leads the department.200 Folly Brook Blvd.
Facts About Wage Theft: The Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut provides information about Connecticut’s wage theft law. The law allows double damages when the non-payment of wages is arbitrary, unreasonable or in bad faith.
Hartford, Connecticut Overtime Attorney
You deserve the paycheck that you are promised under the law for the hours you work. If you aren’t being properly paid, contact the Hartford wage and hour lawyers at Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore. We’ll fight for you.