Wage & Hour Laws
Protecting the best interests of employees
Labor laws are intended to make the interactions of employers and their employees more equitable by setting standards for fair business and employment practices. Well-versed in the nuances of employment and labor laws, our lawyers serving Kansas City and Overland Park are happy to help our clients understand how the system works.
The Minimum Wage
Minimum wage labor laws have been established to ensure that employees are paid a wage that covers the basic cost of living. These laws are designed to prevent worker exploitation and improve quality of life. There is a national minimum wage established by federal law, but most states have established their own minimum wages to reflect higher local costs of living. Washington has the highest state-established minimum wage in the United States, while Kansas has the lowest. Five states have no independently established minimum wage, which means that employers in these states are held to the national standard.
Employees who suspect that their employers may have violated minimum wage labor laws should seek counsel from our lawyers. Kansas City and Overland Park-area residents who seek our help can rest assured knowing they have skilled employment lawyers on their side.
Overtime Labor Laws
Another employment law designates what type of activity constitutes overtime. Overtime is generally defined as extra time worked beyond 40 hours per week, which is considered to be the standard for full-time employment. Some employees, known as “exempt” employees, are not entitled to extra pay for working overtime. In order to be classified as exempt, an employee’s position must be salaried. Any employee receiving hourly compensation is “non-exempt” and is entitled to overtime pay, which is usually a 50 percent premium over the set hourly rate.
Overtime labor laws were updated in 2004. The new laws restructured the definitions of certain classes of workers and adjusted some numerical designations to reflect inflation. Under the new rules, most employees who make less that $23,660 each year are entitled to overtime pay. The old figure was $13,000. Additionally, groups such as manual laborers and first responders (emergency personnel) are now entitled to automatic overtime pay. By contrast, the rules for most white-collar and office employees are now more favorable to employers. Somewhat fewer of these workers are entitled to overtime pay under the new labor laws.
Pay for Non-Working Time
By law, employers are generally required to pay workers for any time that is not devoted to the workers’ personal enjoyment and/or benefit – in other words, any time that benefits the employer. This employment law thus covers on-call time, non-commute travel time (e.g. when making deliveries), and employer-mandated continuing education.
Employees must also be paid for lunch and rest breaks if they perform any work-related tasks during that time. If breaks are unpaid, the employee must be totally freed from all work-related responsibilities.
Finally, employees who work abnormally long shifts must generally be compensated for any time during which they are not allowed to sleep. For shifts longer than 24 hours, eight of those hours are often counted by employer/employee agreement as unpaid sleep and eating time. If the employee is unable to sleep at least five hours during a shift of this nature due to, for instance, workplace conditions or work responsibilities, those eight hours must be paid. If you feel that your right to just pay has been violated, the employment lawyers at our Kansas City and Overland Park-area firm may be able to help.
Vacation and Sick Leave
Employers are not required by law to provide paid vacation or sick leave, though many do so as part of a benefits package. Also, because setting the paid leave structure is up to the employer, setting the schedule for how and when leave accrues is also at its discretion. The same is true for expiration of unused paid leave. In some states, once employers agree to a certain paid leave structure, they are legally obligated under contract law to abide by the rules of that structure throughout the term of employment. Employers are required by law to provide 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave to allow for serious or chronic illness. If you believe that your contractual right to vacation and sick leave has not been honored, speak to the employment lawyers from Bottaro, Kubin & Yocum, P.C.
Contact Bottaro, Kubin & Yocum
To help clarify confusing employment and labor laws, our lawyers speak regularly with clients in the Kansas City and Overland Park areas. Contact Bottaro, Kubin & Yocum, P.C. today to learn more.