Employers must pay their employees in accordance with state and federal wage and hour laws. These laws govern a broad variety of topics such as minimum wage, overtime, and whether workers are properly classified as independent contractors. Unfortunately, some employers try and exploit these rules to avoid properly paying their employees. Meanwhile, employers often find themselves facing unwarranted claims that they have violated the law.  Failing to properly pay an employee can have drastic financial consequences including having to pay the employee double damages and attorney’s fees and other costs incurred in bringing the lawsuit. Even a minor mistake can be expensive.  Do you have questions about whether you are being paid fully and fairly? Are you an employer who’s been accused of wage and hour violations? It’s time to connect with the employment law attorneys of Stanfield Bechtel Law.

Cases Our Firm Handles

Whether you are an employer or an employee, our experienced legal team can represent you in the following types of wage and hour matters:

Minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour, but the Connecticut minimum wage is much higher. Currently, the state’s standard minimum wage is $15.00/hour and it will increase to $15.69/hour starting in January 2024. Wherever there are two different minimum wage rates, the higher one will always apply.

In Connecticut, a lower minimum wage applies to wait staff ($6.38/hour) and bartenders ($8.23/hour). Tips are allowed to make up the difference between these lower rates and the standard minimum wage. However, the employer must pay the difference if the amount of an employee’s tips is insufficient to bridge this gap.

Employers can violate minimum wage laws in a number of ways. They may fail to pay minimum wage at all or pay workers on a non-hourly schedule (e.g. a day rate) that amounts to paying less than minimum wage when the number of hours is factored in. Paycheck deductions which effectively reduce a worker’s pay to less than minimum wage are another example.

Overtime pay. When an employee works more than 40 hours in a given week, he or she must be paid overtime at the rate of 1.5 times the regular rate of pay. For this reason, overtime is also called time and a half pay. Certain employees are exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which is the main federal law that deals with wage and hour issues.

Violations of overtime pay are common. Some industries, such as retail, experience a relatively high frequency of violations. Employers may improperly classify an employee as exempt from overtime or use other schemes such as averaging hours across more than one week or failing to include work that is done before or after an employee’s shift ends.

FLSA violations. The FLSA is about more than just minimum wage and overtime. It also makes provisions for such diverse matters as:

  • Paycheck deductions
  • Recordkeeping
  • Minimum wage for youth
  • Required break time for nursing mothers
  • Illegal employer retaliation

Independent contractor misclassification. Businesses routinely work with independent contractors to perform tasks that are not typically within the scope of the services the company provides. Legitimate independent contractors are not employees and are therefore not subject to overtime and other wage and hour provisions.

The problem is that this creates a major incentive for employers to improperly classify employees as independent contractors. Simply labeling an employee as an independent contractor, even if the employee signs an agreement to that effect, is insufficient and illegal. Courts and the IRS use several factors when determining whether a worker should be treated as an independent contractor or employee. Unfortunately, many employers do not understand these factors and as a result, improperly classify an employee as an independent contract.  Improperly classifying an employee as an independent contractor is a costly mistake that can be easily avoided.  If you need assistance with classifying an independent contractor, or if you think you have been improperly classified as an independent contractor, Stanfield Bechtel Law can help.  

Paid time off and sick leave. Connecticut law allows employees to take paid time off for sick leave and safe leave, the latter of which concerns workers who are victims of family violence or sexual assault (or, in some cases, relatives of those victims). The paid time off law also allows employees to take time off for mental health wellness. 

Employment contracts. Although many aspects of wage and hour law are controlled by statute, other matters are subject to employment contracts. These contracts concern numerous other wage and hour issues such as:

  • Start and end dates of employment
  • Compensation rates
  • Employee benefits
  • Pension and retirement plans
  • Break times and meal break policies

How Our Firm Can Help

We work with both employees and employers to assert workers’ wage and hour rights and defend businesses against allegations that they have violated state or federal law. We start by reviewing the circumstances surrounding the employee’s claims and uncovering evidence concerning them. Filing a lawsuit may be necessary to enforce a wage and hour law, although in some cases an attorney can work directly with an employer to resolve such issues.

Lawsuits are often settled without the need for a trial, and on terms that are mutually beneficial for both the plaintiff and defendant. We work hard to settle cases in which the opposing party is amicable to an out-of-court resolution. If necessary, however, we will take your case to a jury and use all available means to protect your rights. We have learned, from our extensive experience:

  • What the relevant state and federal wage and hour laws are
  • The court decisions that interpret these statutes
  • How the courts work, including the procedural and evidentiary rules that have to be followed
  • How cases are evaluated and valued by both plaintiffs and defendants
  • How to negotiate settlements that save time and money while advancing the client’s interests
  • How to successfully represent employers and employees before a jury

Contact Our Connecticut Wage and Hour Attorney

Wage and hour laws can be complicated. There is also a great deal of misinformation out there concerning the rights and obligations of both employers and employees. If you’re unsure whether you have a valid case, or you don’t know how to answer a claim that’s been made against your business, it’s time to retain skilled legal counsel. Talk to Stanfield Bechtel Law today.