The North Carolina Wage and Hour Act is a law designed to protect an employee’s right to receive fair compensation for his or her work. It is an important safeguard against business owners who fail to take care of their employees. Among its many protections is a provision that requires all employers to ensure their employees are paid the North Carolina minimum wage. This provision even applies to waiters, waitresses, and others that are compensated in part through tips, bonuses, or commissions. If your employer has failed to pay you the North Carolina minimum wage, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit to recover the unpaid difference. In certain situations involving willful violations, you may also recover “double damages” and attorneys’ fees.
The best way to understand how a civil lawsuit involving the Wage and Hour Act works is through an example. Assume that you have worked forty (40) hours per week for the past twenty-five (25) weeks. Over that time, you have only averaged making $5.00 an hour, rather than the current North Carolina minimum wage of $7.25. You would have been shorted $2.25 an hour for 1,000 hours, entitling you to recover, at a minimum, $2,250.00 in unpaid wages.
There are also portions of the Wage and Hour Act which punish the employer unless they can show they acted in good faith. Among those provisions is an allowance of “double damages.” This means that if the employer willfully violated the statute, you could recover double the amount of the unpaid wages. In the above example, the employee could have recover $4,500.00. The Wage and Hour Act also entitles you to recover your attorneys’ fees unless the employer shows good faith.
One area where minimum wage considerations are particularly prominent is with employees who are compensated with tips. The employer is required to pay these employees a minimum hourly wage of $2.13 but must also keep accurate records of tips received. If the employee’s tips do not make up the difference such that the employee is being paid minimum wage, the employer must make up that difference. As with any other Wage and Hour claim, if you prove the employer wilfully failed to pay you minimum wage, you are entitled to double damages and attorneys’ fees.
The Raleigh employment lawyers of Maginnis Howard have handled Wage and Hour claims both for and against employers. If you are an employee, we can represent you and will often do so on a contingency basis. This means that you pay no attorneys’ fees until your claim is resolved. All consultations with the firm are offered free of charge. We are able to represent potential clients in and around the Wake County area, including Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Apex, and Sanford.
To speak with an unpaid wages attorney call the Raleigh law firm of Maginnis Howard at (919) 526-0450. If you would like to correspond via email, you may also submit a confidential email inquiry using our contact page.