Top Wage and Hour Attorney Lawyer Answers: Am I a piece-rate/piecework employee? Does my employer have to pay me for setup time if I’m a piece-rate employee? How do I find an overtime wage attorney in Ohio?
Before the industrial revolution, it was easier to keep track of what employees made rather than how many hours they worked. This is when the term piecework first appeared. The word itself conjures images of hard working, industrious masters and apprentices being paid fairly for what they produce. But, piecework was abused during the industrial revolution, giving rise to sweatshops where workers would slave away all day and receive very little pay. Piecework still exists today, but employers must comply with wage and hour laws and pay employees at least the minimum wage.
So, what is a piece-rate and who is a piece-rate employee? According to the Department of Labor (“DOL”) a “piece rate is the amount of money paid per task performed or piece produced.” So, someone is a piece-rate employee if they are paid per task performed or piece produced. However, an employer must ensure the total amount paid (via piece-rate) divided by the hours worked minimally equals the prevailing wage and that piece-rate employees are paid for every hour they work—which may include travel and equipment setup time.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) employers must pay all covered, non-exempt employees a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour ($7.95 in Ohio). And, for every overtime hour that an employee works over 40 hours an employer must pay the employee time and a half. Employers must also keep accurate records of its employees’ wages and hours worked. These rules apply whether an employer is paying its employees on a piece-rate or hourly basis and an employer cannot retaliate against employees for exercising their legal rights under the FLSA.
An employer that violates the FLSA will have to pay employees for back wages and an equivalent amount in liquidated damages (paid directly to the employees).
A recently settled minimum wage and overtime case out of Washington State illustrates these laws nicely. In that case, drywall contractor Summit Drywall allegedly violated the FLSA over a three and a half year period. Summit paid its drywall hangers and tapers on a piece-rate basis. But, in violation of the FLSA, Summit did not pay its piece-rate employees for every hour they worked, overtime, or travel and setup time. Summit also ran afoul of the FLSA by not keeping accurate records. You would think they would have been able to hire a good bookkeeper with all the money they were saving by not paying their employees!
Luckily for the 384 current and former employees that were ripped off, Summit decided to finally do the right thing and settled the suit for $550,000 ($275,000 in back wages and the same in liquidated damages). Summit must also correctly calculate hours worked, keep records, provide employees with a record of hours worked, train employees on FLSA rules, and write an article for a trade publication addressing drywall employers’ FLSA obligations.
If you believe that your employer is not paying you all of your wages for all of your lawfully earned overtime compensation at a rate of one and half times your normal wages as requires under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act or Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards laws or you are an nonexempt employee that has been misclassified as exempt, contact the attorneys at The Spitz Law Firm today for a free and confidential initial consultation. Or, maybe you are being misclassified as an independent contractor. The wage and hour lawyers at The Spitz Law Firm will provide you with the best options for your overtime pay dispute situation. If you even think that you may be entitled to overtime pay that you are not being paid, call 866-797-6040.
The materials available at the top of this overtime, wage and hour web page and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “Am I entitled to overtime?”, “Does my job have to pay me for …”, “My paycheck is not right…” or “What do I do if…”, the your best option is to contact an Ohio overtime attorney to obtain advice with respect to FLSA questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at the top of this page or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.