Compensation and Benefits
Employment law typically covers areas such as worker safety, workers’ compensation, and collective bargaining. Compensation and benefits law, however, is a more specific area dealing with those areas related to employee pay. Frequent areas addressed by our firm include:
- Equal pay: The Equal Pay Act of 1963 makes it illegal for employers to pay their employees different wages based solely on their gender. For a variety of reasons, however, it still happens. Claims related to equal pay can include commissions, as well as those who are underpaid or improperly paid.
- Commissions: While employers have the right to set the terms of a commission plan, the trouble arises when they then try and change those terms in a way that interferes with the commissions an employee has rightfully earned. Other claims often involve commissions that are rightfully earned, but aren’t paid after an employee is terminated or leaves a position. It’s often the case that a failure to pay commission is a breach of contract on the part of the employer.
- COBRA: What happens to your insurance coverage when you leave an organization? The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, more commonly known as COBRA, was designed to help individuals continue to receive medical coverage, regardless of changes to their employment status. We can help individuals and their families navigate this often complicated system.
- Improper deductions from paychecks: For a variety of reasons, employers often make deductions from their employees’ paychecks. The Texas Payday Act prohibits deductions that are not authorized by the employee. If a deduction causes an employee’s wages to fall below the minimum wage, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) may be violated.
- Failure to pay overtime: In general, employees are entitled to overtime if they work more than 40 hours in one week unless their job duties make them “exempt.” The most common exemptions are executive, professional, administrative, and outside sales. Employee misclassification is common. Rather than “salaried” vs. “hourly,” the proper question is whether the job duties make the position exempt or nonexempt. Other infractions in this area can include requiring an employee to work off the clock to complete tasks before or after the shift, refusing to authorize overtime pay despite overtime hours being worked, and paying a day rate instead of overtime.
- Paid time off and vacation/sick leave: Employees are often faced with the need for time off work for medical reasons for themselves or family members. If you work for an employer that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius, you may be entitled to up to 12 weeks’ unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). An extended leave of absence may be a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Some employers provide paid leave and/or vacation and sick leave, which may or may not be payable upon termination if unused.