The laws and regulations which govern employers are always evolving, and it is important for employees to be aware of their rights.
When people relocate, it is especially difficult to keep up on employment law. Everything that is legal in California, for example, is not always legal here in South Florida. From wages and overtime, to the proper way to take breaks, there are many legal issues in the workplace that are often overlooked.
Those who have experienced discrimination, sexual harassment or retaliation in the workplace should surely seek legal recourse. But, there are many less obvious issues as well that may require employment law advice or representation.
The following are a few legal issues that may arise in the workplace:
Misclassification: In this economy, more and more people are taking jobs as independent contractors rather than as employees. However, it is important to know that these two titles carry significant differences when it comes to taxes, withholding and wages. The distinction is national, and the most evident standard is whether the employer provides the employee with the materials and tools to do the job. If so, the worker is most often (but not always) an employee, not a contractor.
• Overtime pay: The federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay overtime pay for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Overtime pay must be at least one and one-half times an employee's regular rate of pay. Some states have daily overtime limits, wherein employees who work more than a certain number of hours in one day are paid overtime, but Florida does not. On the contrary, in California, you must be paid overtime when you work more than 8 hours in one day.
• Break mistakes: When you take a break, it is important to truly break from your work. If you are working during your lunch period, you probably should be getting paid for your time spent working. However, sometimes employees choose to eat and work at their desk when their employer would like them to leave their work and take a real break. This is sometimes a gray area which merits attention from an employment law attorney when it becomes an issue.
Source: Washington Post, "Common HR nightmares employers can avoid," J.D. Harrison, Jan. 12, 2012