Alabama Wage Law explained
Alabama doesn’t have any state-mandated wage and hour or overtime compensation laws. The state follows the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA. This federal law includes provisions covering minimum wage, employee classification, and overtime pay
In Alabama, an employer that either requires or permits an employee to work overtime is generally required to pay that employee overtime for those hours. Overtime is considered any hours worked over 40 hours per workweek, and the premium pay for overtime hours is at least one-and-a-half times an employee’s regular pay rate.
An employer doesn’t violate overtime laws by requiring employees to work overtime (ie “mandatory overtime”), as long as they are properly compensated at the premium rate required by law.
The Alabama Department of Labor does not pursue overtime wage law claims on behalf of workers. If you believe you’ve been deprived of the overtime pay to which you’re legally entitled, please contact the Lore Law Firm. We focus on representing those subjected to any workplace violation.
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Alabama is one of the few states that hasn’t adopted a state minimum wage law. As a result, employers adhere to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which was set in 2009. Alabama has gone so far as to pass a law that prohibits any cities or counties in the state from passing their own minimum wage laws.
While minimum wage applies to most occupations and employees, there are a few exceptions, including tipped employees. Tipped employees who earn at least $30 per month in tips must be paid a minimum of $2.13 per hour, and that amount plus tips must equal the minimum wage of $7.25.
Exceptions to the overtime law
While most workers in Alabama are entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours per week, there are a few exceptions. Which workers are considered exempt or non-exempt in Alabama is controlled by federal law. Exempt employees are those who, due to their job duties and pay, are not legally entitled to overtime and are, therefore, “exempt” from the laws regarding overtime pay. Non-exempt employees are those whose job duties do not fit within any of the exemptions provided for under the FLSA and are, therefore, entitled to overtime pay.
Misclassification of Independent Contractors
While there are situations in which workers are legitimately running their own business and properly treated as independent contractors who are not entitled to receive overtime, employers are not allowed to mischaracterize employee roles to avoid paying overtime compensation.
Merely labeling a worker as an independent contractor, or even entering into a written agreement, is not enough to avoid the labor laws on overtime pay. There are several factors to be considered in determining if a worker in Alabama is an employee or independent contractor (a/k/a 1099 employee)
Meals and breaks
When it comes to break times, Alabama requires employees who are 14 and 15 to be provided a 30-minute meal or rest period when working five continuous hours.
There is no state law requiring employees who are 16 years old and older to get a specific break period.
Similar to breaks, Alabama doesn’t require employers to provide workers with paid or unpaid vacation leave.
Many employers choose to provide vacation leave as part of a benefits packages to attract employees, however. In these situations, employers may set the policies, terms and conditions as to how and when such a benefit is used.
Alabama doesn’t require employers to give workers paid or unpaid sick leave benefits. However, an Alabama employer may have to allow an employee to take unpaid sick leave according to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA.
Some employers offer sick leave to employees as a benefit, however. In these situations, employers may set the policies, terms and conditions as to how and when such a benefit is used.
Statute of limitations
Alabama’s deadline for filing an overtime claim adheres to the FLSA, which requires those seeking to recover unpaid back overtime wages file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the employer’s wage violation. So a lawsuit filed today would be able to seek recovery of back overtime for only the prior 2 (sometimes 3) years.
As an example, suppose you believe that your employer has failed to pay you proper overtime wages since January 1, 2016. Waiting until June 1, 2019, to file your lawsuit means you are only allowed to seek unpaid wages from June 1, 2017, to June 1, 2019.
The statute of limitations may be extended to three years if an employer’s violation of the FLSA was willful. An FLSA violation is deemed willful if the employer knew that its conduct was prohibited by the FLSA or showed reckless disregard.
On your side
At the Lore Law Firm, we represent salaried, hourly, and day-rate workers in an array of employment litigation matters, including unpaid overtime compensation claims. Our attorneys are passionate about protecting the rights of workers and have helped recover millions of dollars in unpaid overtime wages for our clients.