"Honest Wages for an Honest Day's work!"

Select Your State:
Step 1 (3 Minutes)

Step 2 (2 Minutes)

Step 3


Welcome to the Center for Unpaid Wages (“Center”). The purpose for this Center is threefold.  First, the Center strives to self-empower employees by providing you with timely and insightful information about the federal and your state-specific wage and hour laws.

Secondly, the Center allows you to take a 3-minute test to determine if you maybe a “covered employee” under the FLSA federal wage and hour law and also to take a 2-minute test to determine whether your present or former employer may owe you: “Honest Wages for an Honest Day’s Work!”

Lastly, if you believe that you have a wage and hour claim against your former or present employer, the Center provides you with the ability to consult with competent, knowledgeable, and trustworthy legal counsel in the complex and oftentimes confusing wage and hour law area (free of charge!).

Below, you will find introductory background information on the wage and hour law.

Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay

For employers and employees, the federal “Fair Labor Standards Act” (“FLSA” or Act) regulates the overwhelming majority of employers’ payment of minimum wages, overtime payments, employer recordkeeping and the child labor laws.

The FLSA requires that “covered employees” in the United States be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 hour for all hours worked and that such employees be paid overtime pay at time and one-half the regular rate of pay for all time worked over 40 hours in a workweek. The Act also provides some employers and certain types of employees with “exemption” status from the Act’s minimum wage and/or overtime requirement provisions.

Additionally, most states have their own overtime and minimum wage laws. However, be aware that some states have no employee minimum wage rate, while a few other states’ minimum wage rate is greater than the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 hour. In either case, FLSA covered employees are entitled to receive the greater of the federal or state minimum wage rate.

Getting Started!

For newcomers to the wage and hour law Center, a good place to get started is the “Getting Started!” section located on a tab in the Employee Resource Center found on the left-hand side of this homepage.  The Getting Started section will provide you, as an employee, with a very high-level overview of the federal wage and hour laws (FLSA) and how they might apply to you.

Employee Resource Center

In the “Employee Resource Center” (located on the left-hand side of this homepage), you will find more detailed information (than the “Getting Started” section) on such topics as FLSA covered employers’ obligation to provide covered employees with compensation for minimum wages, overtime pay, and for “hours worked” on-and-off the clock. The Employee Resource Center also contains information on whether an employee is really an “exempt” employee or really an “independent contractor”. There is also a section on “Child Labor Laws”, employer/employee exemptions, and a section on the types of money damages you are entitled to if your employer is found to have violated the federal and/or your state wage and hour laws.

Industries-Specific Resources

On the right-hand side of the homepage of this website, you will also find industry-specific wage and hour related information about how the federal wage and hour laws apply to different industries. For example, there is wage and hour information on such industries as retail, restaurants, service center, manufacturing, security guard, healthcare, tipped employees, construction, etc.

Your Specific State’s Wage Laws?

Do you know the wage laws for your state or what the specific minimum wage rate is for your state? On the top right-hand side of this homepage, there is an area entitled “Select Your State” that discusses each state’s wage laws and that specific state’s overtime and minimum wage rates.  This part of the website provides you with a very high-level overview of your state’s wage and hour laws.

Are you even a “covered employee” under the federal wage Law?

To determine if you maybe covered by the FLSA, take the three minute “Step 1: Wage Law Test” found on the upper right-hand side of this webpage.

Does your employer actually owe you back wages?

To determine if your employer may owe you back wages under the FLSA, take the two minute “Step 2: Wage Owed Test” found on the upper right-hand side of this webpage.

Do you believe you have a wage and hour claim?

If you believe that your existing or former employer may have violated your legal rights by failing to pay you “honest wages for an honest day’s work” please contact the law firm of JonesSatreWeimer for a free consultation (Need a Lawyer).

You, the "user" of this website, need to be aware that the Center for Unpaid Wages ("Center") is providing the information on this website solely as a public service to you. While the Center makes a periodic effort to update this website and attempts to keep the content on this website timely, accurate, and current, the Center does not, in any manner, make any expressed or implied representations, warranties, or guarantees that the information found on this website is the most current or accurate information; given how federal and state wage laws are constantly changing. Furthermore, any and all information and responses provided on this website that is in response to information provided by you on this website is based, in great part, upon the accuracy of the information provided by you, the user. If you believe, for whatever reason that you might have a wage and hour claim against your employer, there is only one way to know for certain: You are strongly encouraged to immediately consult a lawyer with wage and hour experience (Need a lawyer?).
"Advanced Knowledge": entails work that is predominantly intellectual in character that requires the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment (Occupations include law, theology, medicine, teaching, pharmacy, accounting, architecture, engineering, etc.).
"Away from Employer's Place of Business": an outside sales employee makes sales at the customer's place of business, or, if selling door-to-door, at the customer's home.
"Authority to Hire or Fire": an exempt executive employee must have the authority to hire or fire other employees or alternatively, the employee's suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion of employees must be given particular weight.
"Bi-weekly pay period": is one that occurs every two weeks, includes 26 pay periods a year, and usually includes two full workweeks.
"Civic or Charitable Work": time you spend in work for civic or charitable purposes will be hours worked if your employer requested you to do it; the work is done under your employer's direction; or, the work is being done during the time required to be completed at a place assigned by your employer.
"Change in status": a significant change in responsibilities, benefits and/or employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote.
"Commerce": means trade, commerce, transportation, transmission or communications among the several states or between any state and any place outside thereof.
"Commercial motor vehicles": are those vehicles with a gross weight over 10,000 pounds, designed to transport more than eight passengers for compensation, designed to transport more than 15 passengers not for compensation, or used to transport hazardous materials.
"Commissions": is a sum of money paid to an employee based on the sale of a certain amount of goods or services.
"Compensatory Time Off" : is paid time off the job that is earned and accrued by an employee instead of immediate cash payment for working overtime hours (aka "comp time").
"Computing Overtime Pay": overtime must be paid at a rate of at least one and one-half times the employee's regular rate of pay for each hour worked in a workweek in excess of the maximum allowable in a given type of employment.
"Consistent Exercise of Discretion and Judgment": an exemption requirement for a "learned professional" requiring the employee's usage of advanced knowledge to analyze, interpret or make deductions from varying facts or circumstances that is based upon the employee's consistent usage of discretion and judgment.
"Covered Employee": is an employee subject to the Fair Labor Standard Act and therefore its minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor protections.
"Covered Enterprise": is an employer that has 1) two or more employees engaged in commerce, production of goods for commerce or that "has employees handling, selling, or otherwise working on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced for commerce by any person"; and, 2) where the employer has a gross annual volume of sales of not less than $500,000, unless the employer is exempted from this dollar amount.
"Customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction": restricts the "learned" professional exemption to professions for which specialized academic training is a standard prerequisite for entrance into the profession. An academic degree is not required.
"Customarily and regularly": includes work normally and recurrently performed every workweek; it does not include isolated or one-time tasks.
"Department or Subdivision": an employer's customarily recognized department or subdivision must have a permanent status and a continuing function. A recognized department or subdivision need not be physically within the employer's establishment and may move from place to place.
"Direct cash wages": are wages paid at an hourly rate by an employer directly to a tipped employee. Tips are not part of an employee's direct cash wages.
"Directly": this term is used in the "administrative" exemption to ensure that your "primary duty" as an employee is not remotely or tangentially related to any exempt work performed by you.
"Discretion and Independent Judgment": involves having the authority to make independent choices free from immediate direction or supervision with respect to matters of significance; even if your decisions or recommendations are reviewed by a supervisor.
"Educational establishment": means a day or residential school in an elementary or secondary school system as determined under state law, an institution of higher education or other educational institution (such institutions may include special schools for gifted, physically disabled or mentally challenged students).
"Employ": means "to suffer or permit to work."
"Employee": means "any individual employed by an employer". Also, a non-bona fide so-called "independent contractor" can be an "employee" and would therefore be subject to the FLSA minimum wage and overtime requirements.
"Employment": include all hours that an employee is "suffered or permitted to work" for the employer.
"Employer": an employer includes "any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relations to an employee".
"Employer's Customers": an employer's employee whose primary duty directly relates to the management or general business operations of the employer's customers such as employees acting as advisors or consultants to their employer's clients or customers.
"Engagement in Interstate Commerce": employees are covered by the FLSA on an "individual" basis when they are engaged in interstate commerce or foreign commerce on the job.
"Engagement in the Production of Goods for Interstate Commerce": employees are covered on an individual basis when they are engaged in the "production" of goods for "interstate commerce" on the job.
"Enterprise or recognized subdivision": a recognizable subpart within an employer's larger operation that has a permanent status and a continuing function.
"Enterprise Coverage": encompasses employers that have two or more "employees" engaged in commerce, production of goods for commerce, or "has employees handling, selling, or otherwise working on goods or materials that are for "commerce; and ii) haves a gross annual sales of not less than $500,000.
"Establishment": means a distinct physical place of business rather than an integrated business or enterprise.
"Exempt": an exempt employee is one who is not entitled to the minimum wage and/or overtime pay protections of the FLSA.
"Exemption": applies to employers and employees that are not subject to the FLSA's minimum wage and/or overtime provisions.
"FLSA": stands for the "Fair Labor Standard Act" which is a federal law that governs employers' payment of minimum wages ($7.25), overtime payments, child labor laws, and governs employer's employee recordkeeping.
"Fair Labor Standard Act": is a federal law that governs employers' payment of minimum wages, overtime payments, child labor laws, and governs employer's employee recordkeeping (also referred to the "FLSA").
"Fee Basis": an employee paid an agreed sum for a single job regardless of the time required for its completion. A fee basis payment is generally paid for a unique job, rather than for a series of jobs repeated a number of times as opposed to "Piecework payments".
"Field of Science or Learning": Is considered as "occupations that have a recognized professional status as distinguished from the mechanical arts or skilled trades. It includes the traditional professions of law, medicine, accounting, engineering, architecture, teaching and other similar professional occupations.
"Goods": means all products, commodities, merchandise, wares, articles or any ingredient thereof.
"Goods or Facilities Credits toward Minimum Wage": under the FLSA, board, lodging, and other facilities customarily furnished by the employer to his or her employees are considered wages under certain circumstances.
"Highly Compensated Employees": are exempt employees performing office or non-manual work, receives an annual compensation of $100,000 or more and receives at least $455 per week paid on a salary basis or fee basis, and regularly perform at least one primary duty identified under the FLSA standard test.
"Hourly rate": the regular pay rate of pay for an employee paid by the hour. If an employee works more than 40 hours, the employee must receive at least one and one-half times the regular rate for each hour over 40 hours.
"Hours Worked": includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer's premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal activity of the workday to the end of the last principal work activity of the workday. FLSA covered employees must be paid for all hours worked in a workweek.
"Invention, Imagination, Originality or Talent": employees employed primarily in the creative professionals that relied more upon invention, imagination, originality or talent as distinguished from those employees' work that primarily depends on intelligence, diligence and accuracy (e.g., musicians, novelists, actors, artistic painters, photographers, play writers, conductors cartoonists, etc).
"Interstate commerce": means that the goods are produced for trade, sales, transportation, transmission or communication across state lines and includes any work involving or related to the movement of persons or things (including intangibles, such as information) across state lines or from foreign countries.
"Knowledge of an Advanced Type": means work that is predominantly intellectual in character and is to be distinguished from the performance of routine mental, manual, mechanical or physical work. Advanced knowledge cannot be attained at the high-school level.
"Making Sales": includes any sale, exchange, contract to sell, consignment for sales, shipment for sale, or other disposition and also includes the transfer of title to tangible property, and in certain cases, of tangible and valuable evidences of intangible property.
"Management": are those employees responsible for assisting in the overall running and execution of the business. Management includes, but is not limited to activities such as supervising, interviewing, selecting and training of employees; setting and adjusting their rates of pay and hours of work; directing the work of employees; handling employee complaints and grievances; disciplining employees, etc.
"Management or general business operations": means work directly related to assisting with the running or servicing of the business in function areas that are administrative in nature and include but is not limited to such areas as human resources, tax, finance, accounting, budgeting, marketing, advertising, legal, etc.
"Matters of Significance": refers to the level of importance or consequence of the work performed and applies "to the kinds of decisions normally made by persons who formulate or participate in the formulation of policy within their spheres of responsibility or who exercise authority within a wide range to commit their employer in substantial respects financially or otherwise".
"Minimum Wage": the Fair Labor Standard Act ("FLSA") has set the federal minimum wage rate at $7.25/hour as of July 2009. Your state may have a different minimum wage rate. However, you cannot be paid less than the federal rate of $7.25/hour.
"Motor Carriers": are persons providing commercial motor vehicle transportation for compensation.
"Motor Private Carriers": are persons other than motor carriers transporting property by commercial motor vehicle if the person is the owner, lessee, or bailee of the property being transported, and the property is being transported for sale, lease, rent, or bailment, or to further a commercial enterprise.
"Non-exempt Employee": is an employee who is entitled to the federal minimum wage ($7.25), overtime pay, and/or other wage and hour protections provided by the FLSA.
"Obtaining Orders or Contracts for Services or for the Use of Facilities": includes the selling of time on radio or television, the solicitation of advertising for newspapers and other periodicals, and the solicitation of freight for railroads and other transportation agencies.
"Other facilities": include such items as meals furnished to their employees; meals, dormitory rooms, and tuition furnished by a college to its student employees; and, housing furnished for dwelling purposes.
"Other educational establishment": includes special schools for mentally or physically disabled or gifted children, regardless of any classification of such schools as elementary, secondary or higher.
"Overtime": is the extra pay an employer is required by the FLSA to pay to covered, non-exempt employees for the time they work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. Overtime pay must be computed at one and one-half times the employee's regular rate of pay.
"Particular weight": considerations include whether it is part of your job duties to make suggestions and recommendations; the frequency with which your suggestions and recommendations are made or requested; and the frequency with which your suggestions and/or recommendations are relied upon.
"Piece Rate": the regular rate of pay for an employee paid on a piecework basis is obtained by dividing the total weekly earnings by the total number of hours worked in that week. The employee is entitled to an additional one-half times this regular rate for each hour over 40, plus the full piecework earnings.
"Piecework payments": is paid for the kind of job that is repeated an indefinite number of times and for which payment on an identical basis is made over and over again.
"Place of Work": includes all "hours worked" during which an employee is required or allowed to perform work for an employer's benefit, regardless whether on the employer's premises, at a designated work place, at home and/or at some other location.
"Preliminary and Postliminary Activities": pre-and-post shift work-activities that are "integral and indispensable" to an employee's "principal activities" must be compensated. Job-related activities required as a part of an employee's work are covered, even if they are performed before or after the employee's specified work schedule.
"Primary Duty": means the principal, main, major or most important duty that the employee performs with the major emphasis on the character of the employee's job as a whole.
"Principal Activities": are tasks an employee is employed to perform. Everything between an employee's first and last "principal activity" on a given day generally is considered part of the compensable workday.
"Production of Goods": means producing, manufacturing, mining, handling, transporting or in any other way working on goods.
"Prolonged Course of Specialized Intellectual Instruction": a particular occupation or profession that requires for entry into it a perquisite specialized advance academic training, which customarily leads to an academic degree (e.g., law, medicine, accounting, teaching, etc.).
"Recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor": includes such fields as music, writing, acting, graphic arts, etc.
"Recognized Department or Subdivision": must be recognized within the company as a group and/or unit that has a permanent status and continuing function within the organization (e.g., Human Resources, Sales, legal, marketing, accounting, etc.).
"Regular rate" [of Pay]: includes most payments made by the employer to or on behalf of the employee (with some exceptions) and is determined by adding together the employee's pay for the workweek and all other earnings and dividing the total by the number of hours the employee worked in that week.
"Retail or service establishment": is a business where 75 percent of its annual dollar volume of sales of goods or services is not for resale and is recognized as a retail or services establishment in a the particular industry. The establishment must also be one which sells goods or services to the general public.
"Rework": when an employee must correct mistakes in his or her work, the time must be treated as hours worked and the employee must be compensated for this time.
"Salary": a predetermined fixed amount of pay that constitutes all or part of an employee's compensation for a particular pay period. A salary is generally expressed as an amount paid per week, per month or per year.
"Salary Basis": an employee is considered to be paid on a salary basis if he or she regularly receives each pay period a predetermined amount of at least $455 per week, "exclusive of board, lodging or other facilities".
"State": includes any state of the United States, the District of Columbia or any territory or possession of the United States.
"Suffer or Permit to Work": is where an employer requires or allows employees to do work, this work time is generally hours worked even though the employer may not have requested such work but simply allowed it. The employee must be compensated for this time.
"Supervision": to qualify as an exempt executive, the employee must "customarily and regularly" direct the work of two or more other employees or their equivalents.
"Tip": is a sum presented by a customer as a gift or gratuity in recognition of some service performed by an employee.
"Tipped employees": are those employees who work in occupations in which they customarily and regularly receive more than $30 a month in tips.
"Tip Pooling Arrangement": is an arrangement among employees who customarily and regularly receive tips to "pool" or share a customary and reasonable percentage of their tips received with others in the pool.
"Tip Credit": under certain FLSA prescribed conditions, an employer may credit an employee's tips as income toward wages.
"Waiting for Work": an employee hired to do nothing or to do nothing but wait for something to do or something to happen is still working and must be compensated for such time.
"Work": includes any time that is "controlled or required by the employer and pursued necessarily and primarily for the benefit of the employer and his business".
"Workday": means the period between the time on any particular day when such employee commences his/her "principal activity" and the time on that day at which he/she ceases such principal activity or activities.
"Workweek": is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours, or seven consecutive 24-hour periods and may begin on any day of the week and at any hour of the day.
"Workers with Disabilities": individuals, whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability, including those related to age or injury may be paid sub-minimum wages pursuant to a certificate issued by the Secretary of Labor.
"Working Time": includes all hours that an employee is "suffered or permitted to work" for the employer. Working time also includes time during which an employee is "necessarily required to be on the employer's premises, on duty or at a prescribed work place".
"Work Requiring Advanced Knowledge": means work which is predominantly intellectual in character, and which includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and independent judgment.

Examples of factors to consider in determining whether an employee exercises discretion and independent judgment with respect to "matters of significance" includes such job responsibility areas as:

• Your authority to formulate, affect, interpret or implement management policies or operating practices; Or,

• our authority to waive or deviate from established policies or procedures without prior approval; Or,

• Your authority to negotiate and bind the company on significant matters; Or,

• Provide consultation or expert advice to management

An employee performance of secretarial work, recording or tabulating data or performing other mechanical, repetitive, recurrent or routine work generally will not satisfy "...the exercise discretion and independent judgment with respect to "matters of significance"requirement.

The Federal minimum wage and overtime laws cover blue collar and construction non-management type of workers involved in production, maintenance, construction and similar occupations such as carpenters, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, ironworkers, craftsmen, operating engineers, longshoremen (this list is not nor meant to be all-inclusive).

The following non-all inclusive work activities are also included in the construction industry: painting, sandblasting, tuckpointing, roofing, guttering, spouting, water well drilling, installation of flooring and landscaping.

Examples of "Other transportation" employee exemptions where the federal minimum wage and/or overtime requirements may not apply to your employer:

Rail carriers
The overtime provisions of the FLSA do not apply to any employee of an employer engaged in the operation of a common carrier by rail and subject to the provisions of Part I of the Interstate Commerce Act.

Air carriers
The overtime provisions of the FLSA do not apply to any employee of a carrier by air subject to the provisions of Title II of the Railway Labor Act.

Taxi drivers
The FLSA exempts from overtime any driver employed by an employer engaged in the business of operating taxicabs. Taxicab drivers qualify for the exemption so long as they do not spend more than 20 percent of their time performing non-exempt work, such as acting as a dispatcher, performing clerical duties, and performing general or repair services on vehicles.

Charter activities exemption
An exemption exists to the overtime provisions of the FLSA for employees who engage in both passenger transit and charter activities on buses, trolleys or electric railways.