What are My Options for Claiming Unpaid Minimum Wages in Florida?
Both Florida and the United States have laws governing the minimum hourly wage that must be paid to employees. Florida’s Constitution was amended to include the guarantee that employees receive a minimum hourly wage. Since Florida’s minimum hourly wage is greater than the federal minimum wage, employers are required to pay the higher Florida rate. Not only is the Florida hourly wage rate greater than its federal counter-part, but Florida law allows an employee to recover two years more back unpaid minimum wages than federal law allows. In short, Florida law allows greater protection and recovery than the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
If your employer has failed to comply with either Florida or federal minimum wage law you may be entitled to file a claim for double your unpaid wages. A Florida wage and hour dispute attorney can assist you with claiming than back pay.
Claiming Unpaid Minimum Wages with the DOL
As mentioned, you do have rights under Florida’s Constitution and federal law to be paid minimum wage. However, Florida does not have a governmental agency that’s tasked with accepting employee complaints and enforcing state law. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) can enforce the federal minimum wage law, but it cannot enforce the greater rights guaranteed by the Florida Constitution.
To initiate the wage claim process and officially file a complaint, you can contact the WHD or visit one of the agency’s offices. There are seven locations within the State of Florida, including one in Miami; the other two closest offices are in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. You’ll be required to supply basic contact information about yourself and your employer, and to provide details about your complaint.
Filing a Lawsuit in Court
As stated above, the WHD cannot enforce your greater rights under the Florida Constitution’s minimum wage amendment. This leaves the employee with the choice of either seeking less back pay or hiring a lawyer to protect your rights. A lawyer is allowed to demand payment from your employer and file a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary. When it comes to demanding your unpaid Florida minimum wages, the law requires that you send written notification to your employer, outlining the details of your claim. The written notice must include your dates of employment, an estimate of the hours you worked during the subject time period, the hourly wage that you should have been paid, and the amount of unpaid wages you are claiming is owed to you. Your employer has 15 days for its receipt of your written notification to pay the back pay or otherwise resolve the claim to your satisfaction. If that time passes without a resolution to your claim, you can file a civil lawsuit in court. Once you are in court, you can demand and recover double your unpaid wages and also your reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs.
If you’ve been denied payment of the mandatory minimum wage by your employer, you have options to recover up to double your unpaid wages. Considering the complicated nature of the federal and Florida laws that govern these cases, it’s wise to retain a skilled attorney to assist with the process. The wage and hour lawyers at Penichet Law can tell you more about your options, so please contact our Miami office with questions. We can also schedule a consultation to review your case.