Unpaid Wages & Overtime

In Rhode Island, all non-exempt hourly employees must earn at least the minimum wage, and must be paid time and a half (“overtime”) for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours per week. Minimum Wage and overtime are governed by a number of state and federal statutes, including, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §201, et seq. and Rhode Island Minimum Act (“RIMWA”), R.I.G.L. §28-12-1, et seq.

The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Rhode Island Minimum Wage Act

The FLSA contains provisions setting the federal minimum wage. The RIMWA contains provisions setting the state minimum wage for Rhode Island. If both the FLSA and the RIMWA apply to an employee, the employee is entitled to earn the higher of the minimum wages set forth in the statutes.

The FLSA and RIMWA each contain overtime provisions which mandate that non-exempt hourly employees must be paid time and a half for all hours worked in excess of forty(40) hours in one work week. An employee cannot waive his or her right to overtime compensation, and must be compensated for all time worked. However, certain workers, particularly salaried employees, may be exempt from the overtime provisions.

The FLSA and RIMWA apply to any employer of at least one (1) employee, and may apply to employees who have not been paid minimum wage, or who have not been paid for overtime work, meal time, travel time, or “off-the-clock” time worked. Employers who “round down” their employees’ clocked time may also face penalties under the FLSA and RIMWA.

If an employer has violated the FLSA or RIMWA, the employer may be subject to either an individual or class civil action in federal or state court. Under the RIMWA, an employee can collect unpaid wages for the period of three (3) years preceding the filing of a complaint. Under the FLSA, an employee can collect unpaid wages for the period of two (2) years unless the employer knew of the violation and committed the violation willfully; then, the employer can recover one (1) additional year of unpaid wages. Further, an employee is entitled to recover an amount equal to the unpaid wages in liquidated damages under the FLSA and double liquidated damages under the RIMWA, as well as reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

The Rhode Island Payment of Wages Act

The Rhode Island Payment of Wages Act (“RIPWA”) mandates that employers in Rhode Island must pay each employee for all time that the employee worked, including any “final compensation” (such as earned commission payments, full payment for agreed-upon hourly and overtime rates, and accrued vacation pay), on the next regular payday following separation of employment. The RIPWA further makes it unlawful for any employer to deduct wages from an employee’s paycheck without the written consent of the employee. An employer acting in violation of the RIPWA may have to pay the employee the amount owed plus double the amount owed as liquidated damages as well as attorneys’ fees, costs, and interest.

If you or someone you know believe you have not been properly compensated for work performed, please contact us to discuss your matter.

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