Nebraska 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 Nebraska employees who have been subjected to workplace wage and hour violations and take cases on a contingent fee basis – no fee if no recovery of backpay.
Understanding Nebraska Wage and Overtime Laws
While Nebraska does have certain state labor laws that differ from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the state law applies only in instances where it provides greater rights or protections than federal law. Whichever law (state or federal) is more favorable to the worker will apply. In most instances, however, federal law will cover issues involving overtime pay and minimum wage.
The current Nebraska minimum wage is $9 per hour. The minimum wage for a tipped employee is $2.13 per hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
Nebraska employers may pay employees under the age of 20 a Training Wage of no less than 75 percent of the current minimum wage for the first 90 calendar days of employment. After 90 days, the employees’ pay must be increased to the required minimum wage.
Nebraska state labor laws do not include a provision regarding the payment of overtime. However, as most employers are covered by the FLSA, generally the FLSA will apply and requires employers to pay time and a-half for all hours worked over 40 per workweek, unless an employee is properly classified as exempt.
For minimum wage workers in Nebraska, the overtime pay rate amounts to $13.50 per hour (1.5 x $9).
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.
Nebraska labor laws do not require reporting pay or show-up pay when workers show up for a scheduled shift but are sent home due to no available work.
Which Employees are Entitled to Overtime Pay
Most workers in Nebraska 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 Nebraska when making the determination of whether they are classified as exempt or non-exempt from the overtime pay laws.
Misclassification of Independent Contractors
Misclassification occurs when a business treats its workers as independent contractors (or subcontractors) rather than employees to avoid legal obligations such as social security taxes, worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance and overtime pay. 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 Nebraska is an employee or independent contractor (a/k/a 1099 employee)
If properly classified as an independent contractor under Nebraska law, workers are typically eligible for only the specific compensation bargained for in a contract.
The minimum wage for a tipped employee under Nebraska state law is $2.13 per hour.
Employers may not withhold any portion of an employee’s wages unless required to by Nebraska or federal law or if the employer has written authorization to make deductions from an employee’s paycheck and such deduction does not cause the employee’s wages to fall below the required minimum wage.
Nebraska law requires that all final wages be paid on the next regular payday or within two weeks of the termination date, whichever is sooner. This law applies whether an employee is terminated or voluntarily resigned. Final wages may not be withheld pending return of employer’s property.
Pay Statements / Pay Stubs
Nebraska labor laws require an employer to deliver or make available to each employee, by mail or electronically, or provide at the employee’s normal place of employment during employment hours for all shifts, a wage statement showing:
- The identity of the employer and pay period ending date
- The hours for which the employee was paid
- The gross wages earned by the employee
- All deductions made from each check
An employer is permitted to provide each employee access to view an electronic statement of the employee’s earnings, so long as the employee has free and unrestricted access to a printer to print the statement if the employee chooses.
Meal and Rest Breaks
Employers operating assembly plants, mechanical establishments and workshops in Nebraska are required to allow workers a 30 minute lunch period in each shift of at least 8 hours. For all other businesses, such lunch periods are not required and are given solely at the discretion of the employer regardless of the length of the work shift. Although many employers provide such breaks as a matter of company policy, there are no state or federal laws requiring any employer to allow any rest break.
Vacation or Holiday leave
Nebraska 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.
Statute of Limitations
Nebraska’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.
Penalties for Violations
Under federal law, employers who fail to pay proper overtime wages may be liable for up to double the amount of unpaid back wages plus costs and attorney’s fees incurred by employees. These cases can be brought by overtime pay lawyers on a class or collective basis on behalf of all workers who were subjected to the same illegal pay practices.
Layoffs, Plant Closings and WARN Notices
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) offers protection to Nebraska workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives (e.g., a labor union).
An employer who violates the WARN Act by failing to provide appropriate notice is liable to each employee for an amount up to 60 days back pay and benefits for the period of violation.
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 Nebraska. Our attorneys, and the Nebraska 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 and confidential review of your situation.