Missouri Wage Law Explained

If you believe you’ve been deprived of the compensation to which you’re legally entitled, please contact the Lore Law Firm. Our overtime rights lawyers represent Missouri employees who have been the victim of wage theft due to wage and hour violations and take cases on a contingent fee basis – no fee if no recovery of backpay.

Understanding Missouri Wage and Overtime Laws

Missouri state labor laws differ in some respects from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for issues like minimum wage. However, for the most part, the federal law applies to just about every workplace compensation-related issue in the state. 

Minimum Wage

The Missouri minimum wage rates for each year are noted below.  These rates apply to all private, non-exempt businesses.

  • Annually increased based on consumer price index starting January 1, 2024
  • 2023    $12.00 effective January 1, 2023
  • 2022     $11.15 effective January 1, 2022
  • 2021     $10.30
  • 2020     $9.45
  • 2019      $8.60
  • 2018      $7.85
  • 2017      $7.70

Tipped Employees must be paid at least 50 percent of the minimum wage, plus any amount necessary to bring the employee’s total compensation to the full current minimum wage.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

Employees who are paid sub-minimum wages have the right to sue their employer to collect the full amount of back wages due, plus twice the amount they were shorted as liquidated damages. The employer is also liable for the costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred by the employee.  

Note that the Missouri Division of Labor Standards is not authorized by law to pursue an employee’s wage claim in Court. Instead, an employee is entitled to hire a private attorney to pursue an action to collect any wages due.

Overtime Pay

Missouri state labor laws on overtime pay apply the FLSA and require employers to pay time and a-half for all hours worked over 40 per workweek, unless an employee is properly classified as exempt.

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.

When Overtime Doesn’t Apply

Most workers in Missouri are entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours per week. In certain circumstances, however, there are exceptions. 

Employees engaged in executive, administrative, or professional capacities (and paid at least $455 per week on a salary basis) are exempt from the overtime requirement. Note that new minimum salary requirements for these overtime exemptions take effect in January 2020 and increase the minimum salary threshold to $684 per week (or $35,568 annually). This change in federal law will also apply to most workers in Missouri when making the determination of whether they are classified as exempt or non-exempt from the overtime pay laws.

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.  While there is no single definition of “independent contractor” in Missouri labor laws. There are several factors to be considered in determining if a worker in Missouri is an employee or independent contractor (a/k/a 1099 employee) 

If properly classified as an independent contractor under Missouri law, workers are typically eligible for only the specific compensation bargained for in a contract. 

Breaks and Meal Periods

Missouri law does not require employers to provide employees a break of any kind, including a lunch hour. These provisions are either left up to the discretion of the employer, can be agreed upon by the employer and employee, or may be addressed by company policy or contract.

The entertainment industry, however, DOES require breaks and rest periods for youth workers. A youth cannot work more than five and one-half hours without a meal break. Additionally, a 15-minute rest period (which counts as work time) is required after each two hours of continuous work for youth in the entertainment industry.

Vacation Leave

Missouri 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 – including “use it or lose it” policies that state that terminating employees forfeit accrued but unused vacation time. However, any such policy must be clearly communicated to employees through handbooks or other published policies.

Statute of Limitations

Missouri’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.

Lore Law Firm is 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 in Missouri. Our attorneys, and the Missouri overtime law attorneys we associate with, are passionate about protecting the rights of workers and have helped recover millions of dollars in unpaid overtime wages for our clients.

Contact us for a free confidential review of your situation