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Unpaid Wages

If you resign your employment, your employer must pay you the wages owed no later than on your next regular pay day.
If your employer discharges you, your employer must pay you the wages owed no later than within seven working days or at the end of the next pay period, which is sooner.
But, your employer may withhold wages if it has a “reasonable good faith dispute as to the amount of wages due.”
To enforce your claim of unpaid wages, you may file a lawsuit in court within one year since the wages were to be paid or, if the amount owed is $5,000 or less, and less than a year has passed since the wages were to be paid, you may file a claim with the Industrial Commission of Arizona.
You may be able to recover three times the amount owed if your employer fails to pay you in a timely manner.
For more information about unpaid wage claims, please see the Industrial Commission of Arizona website: http://www.ica.state.az.us/Labor/Labor_WagClm_main.aspx .

Minimum Wage

Generally, Arizona employers must pay you at least $8.05/hour (even though the Federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour). In Arizona, the minimum wage increases with the cost of living.
Retaliation for complaining about not being paid minimum wage is also against the law.
If your employer fails to pay you minimum wage, the employer must pay you twice the wages owed with interest, your attorney’s fees, and the costs of the lawsuit.
If you believe your employer is not paying you minimum wage, you may file a claim with the Industrial Commission of Arizona within one year from the date the wages were due, or file a claim in court within two years that the violation last occurred (or within three years if the claim is willful).
For more information about minimum wage claims, please see the Industrial Commission of Arizona website: http://www.ica.state.az.us/Labor/Labor_MinWag_FAQs_English.aspx .

Overtime Pay

Generally, most employers must pay you overtime pay (1.5 times your pay) when you work over 40 hours in a work week. But, there are exceptions. For example, you are not entitled to receive overtime pay if you are in job that is:

• executive (whose primary duty is management);
• administrative (whose primary duty is office work related to management and “includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance”); or
• professional (that requires “advanced” knowledge and “specialized intellectual instruction” including law, medicine, theology, accounting, engineering, and teaching).

Retaliation for complaining about not being paid overtime pay is also against the law.
If your employer fails to pay you overtime pay, generally your employer must pay you twice the amount you are owed, and must pay your attorney’s fees.

If you believe you are entitled to overtime pay, you may file a claim with the Department of Labor within two years from the date the wages were due, or file a claim in court within two years from the date the wages were due (or within three years if the claim is willful). This means, you may recover wages that were due within the two year period prior to filing a claim. Thus, you should file these claims as early as possible.

For more information about overtime pay please visit the Department of Labor website: http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-flsa.htm .

With offices in Phoenix and Mesa, the law firm of Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb can help you evaluate your Unpaid Wage claim and recover unpaid wages owed to you, or help with your unpaid minimum wage or unpaid overtime claim. Please call us at 480-757-0001 or via the contact form on this web site to inquire further.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice. Be sure to consult an attorney for legal advice with the specific facts of your situation.

Family and Medical Leave Act

If you or a family member has a serious health condition, you may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Both parents are entitled to FMLA leave for the birth of their baby.

To be eligible for leave under the FMLA, you must have worked for the employer for the last 12 months and worked 1,250 hours in the past year.

While on FMLA leave, you may substitute paid leave for the unpaid FMLA leave.

You also may take FMLA leave intermittently, which means you may take leave for hours at a time or days at a time, rather than all at once, so long as the health condition requires it.

When you return to work from FMLA leave, generally your employer must return you to the position you were in prior to taking FMLA leave or to a position with equal pay and benefits.

Your employer may not retaliate against you for exercising rights under the FMLA.

Families of Armed Service Members

If you have a family member who is a veteran or in the armed services, and the family member has a serious injury or illness, you are entitled to up to 26 weeks of leave to care for the family member.

Also, if a member of your family is deployed to a foreign country, you are entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave. This leave may be taken (1) to allow you to provide child care which was required due to the deployment, (2) to attend pre and post-deployment ceremonies, (3) to take care of certain financial and legal arrangements, or (4) to spend time with a service member on leave, among other reasons.

If you believe your employer has violated your rights under the FMLA and you wish to file a claim, you must file a complaint with the Department of Labor or a lawsuit in court within two years of the violation or within three years of a willful violation.

For more information on the Family and Medical Leave Act, please visit the Department of Labor website at: http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/ .

With offices in Phoenix and Mesa, the law firm of Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb can help you evaluate your Family and Medical Leave Act claim.  Please call us at 480-757-0001 or via the contact form on this web site to inquire further.

Whistleblowing

There are many laws protecting whistleblowers from retaliation for reporting violations of the law. Listed below is a small sampling of whistleblowing laws.

All Workers

You may not be terminated for disclosing to a supervisor or manager that an employee or the employer violated a state law or the Arizona constitution.

Federal Workers

As a worker for a federal agency, your employer may not take adverse action against you for disclosing a violation of the law, “gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.”

State Public Sector Workers

As a state public sector worker, you may not be punished for disclosing (1) a violation of the law, (2) mismanagement, (3) a “gross” waste of money, or (4) an abuse of authority to a “public body.” A public body includes the attorney general, the legislature, and the governor, among others. If you are punished after making such a disclosure, you may have to file a complaint as quickly as within 10 days of the retaliatory action.

Government Fraud Cases

False Claims Act or Qui Tam Cases

If you believe the federal government is being defrauded, you may file a claim under the False Claims Act. Such a claim is also called a “qui tam” action. A quim tam action allows you to bring a private lawsuit on behalf of the United States government and, you may, depending on the case, obtain up to 30% of the amount recovered. Examples of false claims including the following:

  • Billing twice for something the government already paid for.
  • Falsely certifying to the government that something was done (e.g., such as testing a vehicle part) when it really wasn’t done.
  • Seeking payment from the government when there is no entitlement to payment.
  • Improper Medicare billing.

With offices in Phoenix and Mesa, the law firm of Gillespie, Shields, Durrant & Goldfarb can help you evaluate your Retaliation / Whistleblower claim.  Please call us at 480-757-0001 or via the contact form on this web site to inquire further.

Review of Employment Contracts

We give advice regarding employment contracts, including non-compete agreements and severance agreements. You may be thinking about signing an employment contract. Or you may have already signed a contract, and you seek advice about the interpretation and validity of the contract.  We can give advice whether you’ve signed the agreement or not. Our advice includes answering the following questions:

  • Should you sign the agreement? We give advice on whether you should sign the agreement as it is or whether you should negotiate a modification of the agreement.
  • What does the agreement mean? We give advice interpreting the agreement so that you understand your rights and responsibilities under the agreement.
  • What are your options once you’ve signed the agreement? We give advice on whether the agreement is valid and whether it is likely to be enforced in court. If it is likely to be enforced in court, we give advice about how a court may interpret the agreement. We also give advice on how to avoid a lawsuit. In some instances, you may want advice on whether to file a lawsuit to protect your rights. We provide such advice as well.

Non-Compete Agreements

Employers may ask you to sign a non-compete agreement at the time of your hiring. These agreements may say that if you stop working for them:

  • you cannot work in a similar type of business for a particular amount of time; and
  • you cannot work within a certain number of miles for a particular time.

The agreements may also place restrictions on using “trade secrets” and soliciting former customers and employees.

Agreements not to compete after the termination of employment are disfavored by courts because they prevent an employee from pursuing their vocation. However, these agreements may be enforced if they protect “legitimate business interests” such as reasonably preventing the solicitation of the former employer’s customers, clients, patients, trade secrets, or employees.

Severance Agreements

As you leave your place of employment, your employer may offer you money in return for signing an agreement. The agreement may contain provisions such as following:

  • Release Provision. You agree not to sue your employer under various laws;
  • Confidentiality Provision. You agree not to disclose the agreement to anyone; and
  • Non-Disparagement Clause. You agree not to say anything bad about the company.

We can give advice about (1) whether the amount of money offered is reasonable, (2) your rights and responsibilities under the agreement, (3) whether some of the provisions should be modified to protect you, and (4) the risks of negotiating the severance agreement.

Please call us at 480-757-0001 or via the contact form on this web site to inquire further.

 

Laws Against Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation

Discrimination and Harassment

Your employer must not treat you differently regarding the “terms” and “conditions” of employment, such as pay, benefits, work assignments, training, leave, or discipline because of your race, national origin, color, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, disability, age, religion, or genetic information.

You employer also must not harass you or failure to hire you because of these protected characteristics (e.g., race, national origin, color, etc.).

Retaliation

If you report discriminatory conduct or harassment, your employer must not retaliate against you.

Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities—Leave and Reassignment to Open Position

Your employer must give you reasonable accommodations to help you do your job if you have a disability. This includes giving you as much time off as you need because of your disability so long as the leave does not pose an “undue hardship” to your employer.

An accommodation poses an undue hardship when it requires “significant difficulty or and expense.”

A reasonable accommodation may also include reassigning you—without you having to competitively apply—to an open position for which you are qualified.

Pregnancy Discrimination

If you are pregnant, your employer must treat you the same as non-pregnant employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.  But, if you have a pregnancy-related disability, such as hypertension, you may be may be also entitled to reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

Reporting Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation

If you believe you have been discriminated against or retaliated against or harassed by your employer, generally you must file a complaint with the Arizona Civil Rights Division (ACRD) within 180 days of the date of harm or within 300 days with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

If you are a federal worker who wants to file a discrimination complaint, you have 45 days to contact an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) counselor. You can find the appropriate EEO counselor by contacting your agency’s EEO office.

For more information, please see the ACRD website at: https://www.azag.gov/civil-rights or the EEOC website at: http://www.eeoc.gov/. Federal employees may visit the EEOC website at: http://www.eeoc.gov/federal/ .

 

Please call us at 480-757-0001 or via the contact form on this web site to inquire further.