10 Most Common Wage Violations in Illinois
1) Not Paying Overtime
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay all their non-exempt, hourly workers at least one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all time they spend working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week. But employers continue to find ways to avoid paying overtime – from refusing to log the overtime hours to misclassifying their hourly employees as exempt from overtime, even if they don’t meet the requirements.
2) Making Improper Deductions from Employees’ Pay
Employers can make certain deductions from their employees’ pay without the employees’ permission, such as taxes and social security. Anything else requires express, written permission from the employee at the time the deduction is made, but many companies take advantage of this and make illegal deductions from their workers’ pay without their consent, thereby making their employees (especially their low-income employees) pay for some of the company’s overhead costs.
3) Miscalculating Overtime Rate
Most companies just multiply their employees’ normal hourly rate by 1.5, multiply that by however many overtime hours they worked, and leave it that. In many cases, that’s probably fine, but if the employee earned any tips, bonuses, commissions, or any other income during the overtime pay period, that income also needs to be included when calculating their overtime rate, but many employers neglect to do so.
4) Improper Use of Tip Pooling
Because employees who earn tips can be paid a lower minimum wage ($4.95/hr in Illinois compared to $8.25/hr) many restaurants look for ways to justify paying the lower minimum wage, even to employees who don’t earn tips. Many of them do this by making tipped employees, such as servers, share their tips with non-tipped employees, such as cooks and dishwashers.
5) Manipulating Timecards to Make It Look Like Employees Worked Less Time
Some employers round out an employee’s time when they punch in or out, often resulting in the employee working a few minutes more or less than the time for which they get paid. It may not seem like much, but those few minutes add up over time. Other companies simply refuse to include all the hours their employees spent working, especially overtime, so they can pay them less than they earned.
6) Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors
Companies don’t have to pay taxes, social security, or benefits for the independent contractors they hire, but because those expenses fall on the worker, there are specific requirements a worker needs to meet in order to qualify as an independent contractor. Far too many companies have been misclassifying their employees as independent contractors and placing the burden of these extra expenses on low-earning workers who can’t afford them.
7) Failing to Pay Accrued Vacation Time After Termination of Employment
Paid vacation time counts as wages employees have earned. If an employee has any paid vacation time owed them that they have not used at the time of their termination of employment – regardless of whether they quit or were fired – those are wages Illinois law requires the company to pay its employee.
8) Making Employees Work Off the Clock
Any time employees are made to perform work when they’re not “punched in,” whether it’s before they’ve clocked in, after they’ve clocked out at the end of their shift, or when they’re clocked out for a break, that is work for which they need to be paid, but too often employers cut corners and reduce labor costs by making employees perform work off the clock.
9) Avoiding Municipal Ordinances Regulating Minimum Wage and Overtime
In addition to the federal FLSA, each state, city, and county has its own local laws governing the minimum wages and overtimes for their area. Employers need to be aware of both their federal and local laws, as well as which law takes precedence, when determining how much they need to pay their workers. Many employees either aren’t aware of, or choose to ignore the laws, and few workers (especially low-income workers) are aware of the various municipal ordinances, which often allows the companies to get away with their illegal activity.
10) Retaliating Against Employees
From whistleblowing (alerting the government to potential illegal activity) to bringing up complaints about pay and/or policies, the law guarantees workers certain rights. Any employer who tries to retaliate against an employee (either by firing them or demoting them/reducing their hours) for exercising any of these legal rights, is violating the law.
The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Hilton, DoubleTree, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Extended Stay America, Staybridge Suites, Best Western, HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Applebees, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Chili’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendy’s and hotels for mis-classifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Oak Lawn and Naperville. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Geneva, Western Springs and Bollingbrook overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers mis-classify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.