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Discrimination In Wage & Hour Claims

There are many ways that employers can discriminate against their employees, but one of the least seen tactics is to refuse to compensate an employee because of an inherent characteristic. For example, paying workers of color less or outright withholding wages they would be entitled to, solely because they’re not white. Wage and hour claims happen fairly often, but not all will have a discriminatory component to them. If yours does, consulting an attorney is a good idea.

No Real State Law

Wage and hour claims generally have to do with overtime pay, which all nonexempt workers in South Carolina are entitled to receive, if they’re covered under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). There is no specific definition that says whether an employee is covered. Rather, there’s a list of factors that will be considered on a case-by-case basis to figure out an employee’s status. The FLSA deals with employee status in a more general way as well, with its provisions also being used to determine whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor.

Generally, South Carolina’s law is fairly silent regarding matters in employment law, which means that most of the time, federal law like the FLSA will control. This means that federal standards on minimum wage and overtime restrictions, among other issues, are in force. The federal statute of limitations on these types of claims also applies, which means that one must file their claim for unpaid wages within either two years (if the lack of payment was allegedly unintentional), or three years (if the lack of payment was deliberate).

A Method Of Control

Most of the time, wage and hour claims are seen as simple issues. An employer either has paid their workers what they’re owed, or they have not. However, there are several ways that wage and hour claims can arise out of discriminatory treatment. One of the most common examples is an employer refusing to pay undocumented immigrant employees sufficient wages or overtime pay, despite undocumented workers having almost identical wage and hour rights to the documented. This can be seen as discriminatory because a case can be made that the workers are receiving less pay due to their national origin or ethnicity (two protected grounds under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964).

What many employers and employees are unaware of is that discrimination or discriminatory behavior is not always blatant and hostile. More mild forms of discrimination against people based on protected characteristics can take the form of wage and hour discrimination, as a way for the employer to subtly exert control.

It can sometimes be difficult to spot behavior that might qualify as wage and hour discrimination, but some of the most common examples are:

  • Misclassifying workers as independent contractors (so that they will, in theory, make less)
  • Not paying at least minimum wage
  • Requiring employees to attend after-work “events” without pay.

Call A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Attorney

Discrimination in wage and hours claims is rare, but it can happen nonetheless. If you have questions or concerns about a wage and hour claim, calling a South Carolina employment discrimination attorney is a good idea. Attorney A. Christopher Potts and the firm of Hitchcock & Potts are ready to assist you. Contact our offices today to set up a consultation.

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