Unpaid Wage Lawyers in Seattle

Unpaid wages, also known as back pay, is the term used for missed wages or wages you should have been paid but were not. At Rekhi & Wolk, we consider this the same as any other theft and believe employers who intentionally withhold pay deserve to face the consequences of the law. Our back pay lawyers have successfully brought many class actions against employers who steal from their employees, resulting in the successful recovery of unpaid wages owed to employees.

If you believe your employer owes you back pay, reach out to the employment attorneys at Rekhi & Wolk to discuss your options. Our unpaid wage lawyers in Seattle can help you get the wages you worked for.

How to Know if You’re a Victim of Wage Theft

If you have done work but have not been paid for it, you may be entitled to back pay or unpaid wages. Federal, Washington, and Seattle law requires employers to pay a minimum wage as well as overtime wages to certain employees.

What wage laws protect employees in and around Seattle?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law governing minimum wage and overtime requirements. This protects employees’ rights to a minimum wage and overtime pay and emplolyers’ responsibilities regarding recordkeeping and child labor standards. Washington’s Minimum Wage Act is Washington’s equivalent to FLSA and provides similar protections to Washington employees, including a higher minimum wage as well as paid sick and safe time. Seattle likewise has its own minimum wage and a wage theft ordinance which prohibits retaliation against those who assert their rights to receive all their compensation

Washington laws also ensure that employees have the right to meal breaks and rest breaks, that all their owed wages must be paid upon termination, and that no deductions from their pay can be made that benefit the employer.

Exemptions from FLSA and the Washington Minimum Wage Act – Executives, Professionals, and Independent Contractors

There are some exceptions to the FLSA and Washington Minimum Wage Act. Specifically, independent contractors are not employees and therefore not entitled to “wages.”

Certain types of employees don’t qualify for overtime pay. If you make more than $455 per week and qualify as an executive employee, an administrative employee, or a professional employee then your employer doesn’t need to pay you overtime. These types of employees are typically paid a salary rather than hourly wages.

As mentioned above, the wage laws do not protect the compensation paid to independent contractors. How can you tell if you are an employee protected under the FLSA/MWA or an independent contractor? If you aren’t supervised for how you perform your duties or aren’t economically dependent on your employer’s  business, you may not be considered an employee. 

There are many more factors determining the difference between an employee and an independent contractor under the FLSA and Washington Minimum Wage Act. If you think you may be an employee but there are aspects of your employment that make it seem like you are an independent contractor, contact us. Our unpaid wage lawyers in Seattle can help you understand the complexities of this exception and whether you are entitled to protections under the FLSA and Washington Minimum Wage Act.

The Most Common Wage and Hour Abuses Failure to Pay Overtime

Whether you are salaried or paid hourly, you may be entitled to overtime pay if you work more than a 40 hour work week. Contact our unpaid wages lawyers for help if you are working hours that you are not being paid.

Failure to Pay Minimum Wage

Employers may attempt to pay less than the required minimum wage in instances where employees receive tips from clients or customers. Employers may also attempt to withhold pay for activities such as opening and closing a business, training, and meetings. Seattle also has an ordinance for Seattle employees which protects them from wage and hour violations.

Failure to Receive Breaks

Employees are entitled to receive a ten minute paid rest break for every four hours of work. They also have the right to a 30 minute unpaid meal break for every five hours of work. Employers have an affirmative duty to ensure breaks are taken, and, if they are not, to pay employees for missed breaks. Unfortunately, many employees do not know their rights and frequently do not receive them, or the wages they are owed for the missed breaks.

The Minimum Wage Act

The FLSA and Minimum Wage Act protects workers from being paid less than the minimum wage. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries also sets the state-wide minimum wage for workers under the state’s Minimum Wage Act.

What is the Minimum Wage in Seattle?

The minimum wage in Seattle is currently $16.69 per hour for most workers.  If you work for a smaller employer (less than 500 employees) then the Seattle Minimum wage is $15.00 as long as you also received $1.69 in other compensation (such as tips or healthcare).  Other minimum wages may apply if you work on public works contracts or if you are a designated employee working in other parts of King County.

The minimum wage in Washington State is currently $13.69 per hour.

Paid Sick Leave

If you are an employee in Washington State, your employer is now required to provide you with paid sick leave. Washington State’s paid sick leave law was one of several changes to workers’ rights law mandated by Initiative 1433, approved by Washington voters in 2016. Seattle Paid Sick Leaves laws give Seattle workers additional protections.

If you were out sick but not paid for the hours you missed, contact our unpaid wages lawyers in Seattle. We can help you determine if you were eligible for paid sick leave.

Violations to Tipped Employees

Employers are generally required to pay employees all tips, gratuities, and service charges, and may not withhold any tips or deduct tips from the mandated minimum wage.

If you are being paid less than the minimum wage because you receive tips from clients or customers, contact our unpaid wages attorneys. We can help you get the back pay you earned.

Misclassification of Employees

Because the pay of independent contractors is not regulated by the FLSA or the Minimum Wage Act, employers may attempt to misclassify an employee as an independent contractor in order to pay them less.

Employee vs. Independent Contractor

Whether you are an employee or an independent contractor depends upon the amount of control your employer has over your work. An independent contractor may be classified as an employee when:

The worker performs the work of the employer;
The worker’s hours and work location are dictated by the employer;
The worker uses the tools and equipment of the employer;
The worker is trained by the employer.

Failure to Pay Off the Clock Work

Travel at the direction of the employer, meetings, required training, and opening and closing a business outside of business operating hours must all be paid work.

Failure to Pay Commissions & Bonuses

Commissions and bonuses are subject to the contractual relationship between the employer and the employee. Any failure to pay commissions or bonuses is a contract violation that our unpaid wages attorneys can help you with.

Illegal Paycheck Deductions

In Washington State, employers may take the following deductions even if the deduction takes the employee’s wages below the state minimum wage:

  • Deductions required by state or federal law, such as federal income taxes, Medicare, workers’ compensation, etc.;
  • Court-ordered wage garnishments;
  • Deductions that benefit the employee if the employee has agreed to the deductions in advance and in writing.
  • Deductions for cash advances, the employee’s purchase of goods or services from the employer, or rent for living on the employer’s property, or the employee’s health, dental, vision, or other insurance payments.
  • Deductions for medical, surgical, or hospital care or service.

However, Washington law requires that all deductions cannot benefit the employer – in other words, if your employer deducts money from your paycheck to pay for something that benefits them, then this would be illegal.  If you believe your employer is taking deductions from your wages that are not authorized under state or federal law, or if those deductions seem too high, contact our unpaid wages lawyers in Seattle. We can help you determine whether you are entitled to back pay as a result of illegal paycheck deductions.

How Can Our Team of Wage Lawyers in Washington Help You?

We Thoroughly Investigate Each Wage Claim

We Apply Our Comprehensive Knowledge of Federal, State, and Local Employment Laws
The lawyers and Rekhi & Wolk have extensive knowledge on these topics. We can help you understand what your rights are with respect to unpaid wages and then formulate a plan to enforce those rights.

We Are Skilled at Negotiation with Employers

Not every case will need to be filed in Court. We can be your voice with your employer to make sure you get paid for your work. Sometimes we are able to resolve the case without ever filing a lawsuit.

We Have a Proven History of Successful Employment Litigation and Settlement in Seattle

The Statute of Limitations for Back Pay in Washington State

Under Washington State’s Wage Payment Act, a worker can file a worker rights complaint for back pay, unpaid wages, and other employment issues, even if the worker is no longer employed by that employer.

If an employer retaliates against a worker for filing a worker rights complaint, the worker has 180 days to file a retaliation complaint.

Unpaid Wage Lawyers at Rekhi & Wolk

Our seasoned back pay lawyers can help you determine if you are eligible for unpaid wages and pursue your claim. Let our employment lawyers in Seattle help you get the back pay you worked for.

FAQ

Are volunteers and interns considered employees under the FLSA?

Most volunteers are not considered employees as they are typically not paid by the organization they’re serving. Whether an intern is an employee or not depends upon several factors and may depend on the state, organization, and the internship itself.

Can I file a complaint about missed meals and rest breaks?

Unfortunately, these issues are not subject to an easy determination without specific knowledge of your particular facts and circumstances. Our unpaid wage lawyers in Seattle can help determine if your situation is actionable under Washington law.

What happens if I’ve already complained to my employer about missed wages?

If you have complained to your employer that you are not receiving your wages, then you may also be protected by whistleblower provisions. Our underpaid wage lawyers in Seattle can also handle cases involving issues of retaliation.

Am I owed back pay if I was wrongfully terminated?

Maybe. Our back pay lawyers can help defend your rights in cases involving wrongful termination. If you are reinstated, your employer will owe you back pay from the day which you were wrongfully terminated and the date a judgement was reached on the case.

Are holiday and vacation pay required under Washington state labor laws?

Washington State does not require employers to provide leave or pay for holidays, vacations, or bereavement. However, often these benefits can be found in your employer policies, employment contract, or collective bargaining agreement.

If you believe you are owed unpaid wages for holidays, vacations, or bereavement, contact our back pay lawyers. We can help.

What records is my employer required to keep? Can I get copies?

Under the FLSA and Washington wage and hour laws, every covered employer must keep certain records for each non-exempt worker for either two or three years, depending upon the type of record. The following is a listing of the basic records that an employer must maintain:

  1. An Employee’s full name and social security number.
  2. Employee’s address, including zip code.
  3. Employee’s birth date, if younger than 19.
  4. Employee’s gender and occupation.
  5. The time and day of the week when the employee’s work week begins.
  6. Hours worked each day.
  7. Total hours worked each work week.
  8. Basis on which employee’s wages are paid
  9. Regular hourly pay rate.
  10. Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings.
  11. Total overtime earnings for the workweek.
  12. All additions to or deductions from the employee’s wages.
  13. Total wages paid each pay period.
  14. Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.

An employee can access these records but the employer is permitted to charge a reasonable copying fee.

Can my employer hold my final check until I return company items?

Washington State law requires terminated employees to be paid at the next regularly scheduled payday. Employers may not withhold their paycheck until terminated employees have returned company property.

Call our unpaid wage lawyers in Seattle if you believe the cost of equipment or other company items was unfairly deducted from your final paycheck.

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