When Workers File Wage Claims,  Employers Cannot Retaliate | Law Firm Newswire

When Workers File Wage Claims, Employers Cannot Retaliate

Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) January 15, 2015 - Employees are protected from unfair wages and retribution under labor law act.

If an employer is not in compliance with the law regarding fair wages for all work performed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employee has the right to file a wage claim. Workers have several options for filing these claims. They may either file with the U.S. Department of Labor or approach their state labor department.

Successful claims may result in an employer paying all unpaid wages to the claimant. Claims may not be filed for types of pay the Fair Labor Standards Act does not mandate an employer to provide, which may include, but are not limited to: severance pay, sick leave, holidays off, fringe benefits, vacations, raises, meals and breaks.

“No matter what wage is paid to a worker, it first of all must be, at the very least, the federal minimum for the vast majority of employees. There are some states with higher minimum wages than the federal requirement. If a company is not paying a worker for “all” hours worked, which includes paying time-and-a-half for overtime, they may file a wage claim,” stated employment attorney, Timothy Coffey, of the Coffey Law Office in Chicago.

Once a wage claim has been filed, the FLSA protects the worker from retaliation by the employer. Beyond firing, retaliation may take the form of a demotion, a change in job title, a job reassignment or a reduction in responsibilities. Reassignment without a pay cut does not qualify as retaliation.

To file a claim of retaliation, the plaintiff must prove retaliation in the workplace was a direct result of lodging a wage claim. Such evidence might include something an employer said in front of others or via memo, email or text. This is considered to be direct evidence. Indirect evidence comprises how a manager behaved after a claim was filed or a clear pattern of retaliation against other workers for filing claims.

Protection is applicable to both informal and formal complaints, as well as serving on an industry forum or testifying about wage issues. Protection is not extended to a worker if their claim is not based on their good-faith belief that an employer is in violation of the law. “This can be a very tricky area,” Coffey added, “and workers who feel they are being ripped off need to speak to a competent employment lawyer to find out if that is the case.”

Workers able to prove retaliation may recover lost wages, successfully attain a withheld promotion or be reinstated in their jobs. “You may also be able to claim compensation for mental anguish, but you need to discuss this with an employment attorney,” said Coffey.

THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C.
351 W. Hubbard Street, Suite 602
Chicago, IL 60654
Call: 312.627.9700

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