Wage and hour disputes are common employment issues throughout the country. Whether you are an employee or employer, there are legal complexities you may not be familiar with. Additionally, while there are federal laws that cover a myriad of wage and hour issues, many states have enacted stricter, state-specific laws and, in some cases, even local wage and hour ordinances. It is important to consult with an experienced wage and hour attorney before you become entangled in a time-consuming court case that interferes with your finances and your productivity.
Services Our Knowledgeable Wage and Hour Attorneys Will Provide
Our dedicated team of wage and hour attorneys will listen carefully to your story to make sure you have a viable case. Our peer-reviewed and award-winning attorneys have a track record of successfully negotiating and litigating wage and hour disputes and are eager to use their talents to get you a reasonable resolution.
On your behalf, we will examine all relevant documents — office calendars and clock-in data, contracts, pay stubs, etc. to determine if and when inequitable treatment has occurred relative to:
- Failure to pay (or be paid) minimum wage
- Miscalculated rates of pay
- Misclassification of employees
- Failure to pay (or receive) agreed upon commissions, bonuses, or overtime
The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act
Beyond the federal minimum wage that has remained at $7.25 for over 10 years, Illinois, like most states, has its own standard. Under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, the Illinois minimum wage, as of January 2021, is $11 per hour and will be gradually raised to $15 per hour by 2025, for non-tipped individuals age 18 or over.
Wage and Hour: Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees
In wage and hour disputes, the legal distinction between exempt and non-exempt employees may be unclear. Non-exempt workers are entitled to overtime pay (time and a half) when they work more than 40 hours per week. Exempt employees, however, are those who work in administrative, executive, freelance, or professional positions. As exempt employees, they are salaried and paid the same amount every week, no matter how many hours they work.
Other Regulations that Affect Wages and Hours in Illinois
The Illinois Department of Labor has other mandates that both employers and employees should be aware of, including:
Wage and Hour: Breaks Employees Are Entitled to in Illinois
All employees who work 7 1/2 continuous hours are entitled to meal breaks of at least 20 minutes no more than 5 hours after they begin their shift. While Illinois law does not require other breaks, employers are expected to allow necessary bathroom breaks.
Illegal Wage Deductions
Employers are not allowed to withhold or deduct wages until uniforms, tools, or devices are returned to the employer. Employers are also forbidden to withhold earned vacation days or wages if an employee has failed to give notice or because the employee was terminated for cause.
Employers cannot deduct from wages for inventory shortages or accidental damage to company property, inventory, or equipment except if the employee signed an agreement at the time the deduction was made.
Exceptions to this rule may also be made if the employee damaged the property intentionally or through gross negligence. As a practical matter, such judgments are subjective; this makes it even more worthwhile to have a savvy wage and hour attorney at your side.
Legal Deductions from Wages
Legal deductions an employer can make from an employee’s pay include:
- Federal and state taxes (e.g. income tax, Medicare taxes, Social Security taxes, Unemployment taxes)
- Child support, if arranged by the court*
- Healthcare insurance, union dues, pension fees (if the employee has agreed)
*More than 75 percent of child support is paid through income withholding
4. Garnishment of wages due to a court order
If an employer has accidentally overpaid an employee, the entire amount may be deducted on the payday after the discovery of the overpayment, assuming the employee agrees. If the overpayment is discovered weeks, or even months later, it is often necessary for each party to seek legal representation to iron out a plan for repayment that is fair to both parties.
A Strong Attorney Can Help You Be on the Winning Side of a Wage and Hour Dispute
Whichever side of a wage and hour dispute you’re on, you may feel that you are being taken advantage of. Without legal representation, you may feel helpless, incapable of arguing your side of the story persuasively. If an issue like one of those below applies to you, contact a wage and hour attorney today.
Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil, LLC serves Chicago, DuPage County, Kane County, and Cook County from their office in Geneva, Illinois for all wage and hour dispute legal needs of our clients.