The US Department of Labor has a simple message for employers: Pay your employees the minimum wage. The minimum wage in the United States is currently $7.25 per hour, which means that anyone who has a full-time job should make at least $15,080 annually. This is not always the case, however, and this article will explore what can happen if one fails to pay their employees for the work they do.
Department of Labor Investigation
The Department of Labor is tasked with enforcing all labor laws in the United States and enforcing the minimum wage. One step that they can take if someone does not follow these rules is to investigate the employer. If it turns out that the employer did violate the law, then they will be given fines or other penalties imposed by law. This can include ordering back pay for all employees who were impacted, meaning that the employee may receive their lost income plus an additional 50% under federal law. The government can also impose heavy fines against employers who break the law. It will depend on how much was earned by employees who did not receive their correct amount of compensation for how large these fines will be.
Private Lawsuits for Lost Wages
If an employer does not pay their employee by the law, then that employee can bring a lawsuit against them. If they win, then they will be able to collect all back-earned compensation plus interest and any other financial penalties imposed by state laws. There are also federal laws that go into place when it comes to this lawsuit, including a provision that allows employees who receive a portion of what they had earned to sue for three times as much as what is owed. It will depend on how many people were affected by the lawsuit if the penalty would be higher.
Worker Cooperation with Law Enforcement
One final thing that can happen if someone fails to pay minimum wage is cooperation from their employees. Instead of just filing a lawsuit, an employee may also be willing to work with the police and provide information to get their employer in trouble for taking advantage of them. This is especially true if there was some kind of threat involved in not receiving their wages when they were previously due. While this does not happen too often, it is nevertheless something that can happen.
Employee Training on Rights at Work
The last thing that will happen is important training and education about the rights of employees at work. Companies who fail to pay minimum wage will be required by law to inform all employees, regardless if they were affected or not, about exactly what labor laws exist and what they entail. The Department of Labor will provide two hours’ worth of class time (at the employer’s expense), which will describe exactly what employees are entitled to in terms of payment. Not only does this keep employers from being paid less than they are supposed to, but it also helps them understand their rights at work should any other disputes arise in the future.
Employers who are caught failing to pay their employees minimum wage have quite a bit of trouble ahead of them. Not only will they be forced to pay back all the wages owed including additional money, but they may also have to deal with fines and lawsuits from both employees and state or federal agencies. Employers must understand exactly what these laws entail, otherwise, they could end up in serious legal trouble.