Wage Theft Rampant Among Low-Wage Workers
A whopping statistic was recently announced, that low-wage workers are robbed more than banks, gas stations, and convenience stores combined – except the perpetrators are their own employers. This statistic is due to the fact that many employers don’t abide by minimum wage laws or pay overtime when legally obligated to do so. According to a Huffington Post article, more than 60 percent of low-wage workers have pay illegally withheld by their employer each week. Low-paid workers lose an average of $2,634 per year in unpaid wages – a staggering 15 percent of their income. Wage theft across the country topped $185 million in 2008, according to the latest Labor Department data available. This number was three times more than all the money lost in bank, gas-station and convenience-store robberies that same year.
Any non-exempt employee in Connecticut is required to be paid 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked over 40 in a seven-day week. Although the 40-hour workweek averages out to the standard eight hours per weekday, overtime is calculated on a per-week basis. Therefore, an employee is not entitled to Connecticut overtime pay even if an employee works 12 hours in one workday, unless he or she works more than 40 hours in that workweek. An employee earning the current minimum wage of $8.25 per hour will receive $12.38 per overtime hour worked. Connecticut’s minimum wage will increase to $8.70 per hour, effective January 1st, 2014.
Employers most commonly con workers out of overtime pay by misclassifying them as exempt, when in reality, they should legally be earning overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in a seven-day week. Employers must obey both United States federal law and Connecticut wage law, which require employers to pay all “employees” a minimum wage and increased rate for overtime. However, there are many exemptions where a worker is not considered an “employee” and therefore does not qualify for overtime pay, with the white collar exemption being the most common. It should be noted that Connecticut does not recognize the “computer professional” exemption provided under federal law. In order to be exempt under Connecticut law, you must be earning at least $455* ($684 of 1/1/2020) per week. Exempt professions include executive, administrative, professional (learned professionals and creative professionals), and outside sales.
* The Department of Labor under the Obama Administration increased this salary amount to $913 per week effective 12/1/2016; however, this increase was blocked by a court ruling. Instead, the Trump Administration only increased the salary amount to $684 per week effective 1/1/2020. Please see this page for the latest updates.
If you’re currently living and working in Connecticut and are unsure whether or not you should be receiving overtime pay, or you are not receiving the pay that is legally owed to you, it’s imperative to contact an experienced professional in overtime pay law in order to get the wages that are rightfully yours.