The workplace can sometimes be a very confusing place, especially when it comes to your rights as an employee. If you have questions that you cannot find answers to, know that you are not alone. Chances are that if you have a question, others have the same question.
This article is designed to provide answers to common workplace questions. If you still have questions after reading this article, you should discuss this situation with an attorney. The experienced attorneys at Hutchison & Stoy, PLLC offer free case consultations to individuals who are attempting to determine their legal rights. Contact us today, we fight for clients’ rights!
Is my employer required to provide paid time off (“PTO”)?
Despite the fact that more than 90% of employers offer paid time off, employers are actually not required to provide this benefit. Since the law does not require employers to offer PTO, employers have a broad range of discretion with regard to how much PTO to give to employees, if any.
Typically, industry standards will dictate how much time off employers give to employees. If you are about to seek employment, you may want to talk to an experienced employment attorney to help you negotiate your employment contract or to provide advisement regarding negotiating paid leave.
It is legal for employers to offer vacation time to some employees and not others?
As discussed above, employers have a lot of discretion as to how to grant vacation time to employees. This means that employers are not required to offer employees the same benefits, particularly when it comes to part-time versus full-time employees. Employers are legally allowed to define “part-time” and “full-time” status in their business or company, and they can grant differing vacation time to employees in each category.
However, remember that employers cannot discriminate illegally when they are determining whether to give an employee benefits.
If you believe that you were discriminated against illegally, you should discuss your situation with an attorney.
An experienced employment attorney will be able to assist you in determining whether the actions of your employer constituted wrongful discrimination.
Is it legal to take away earned vacation time due to a policy change?
If your employer is attempting to take away paid vacation time, you should probably contact an experienced employment attorney to seek advisement on whether this employment action is legal in the context of your specific circumstances.
In some states, employers cannot legally take away an employee’s earned vacation time.
This is because vacation time is considered “earned compensation,” and employers cannot take this compensation away from an employee without running afoul of the law.
This situation is different than a situation where the employer has a policy setting a “cap” on the amount of vacation time that an employee may earn in a given period of time.
If you have unused vacation time and you were fired or quit your job, you may be entitled to receive compensation for this vacation time from your ex-employer.
Contact the lawyers at Hutchison & Stoy, PLLC to discuss your particular situation today.
Can my employer determine when I can use my vacation time?
Employers can determine when employees may use their vacation time.
In fact, employers may prohibit employees from using their vacation time during certain peak seasons, which can be understandable in the context of the employee’s given job duties.
Employers may also legally have notice requirements, whereby the employee must provide notice to the employer if the employee wants to “cash in” their vacation time.
Essentially, almost all employers require that an employee provide a “heads up” when the employee wants to take vacation time.
Do employers covered by the FLSA have to give mandatory lunch breaks if employees work more than 40 hours a week?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) does not require employers to provide employees with meal breaks.
That is, the FLSA leaves the matter of whether employees receive lunch or meal breaks up to the employer.
However, it is important to remember that employers are required to provide breaks for nursing mothers.
Depending on where you work, state law may require your employer to provide you with meal or lunch breaks.
If you have any questions about your rights as an employee regarding meal or lunch breaks, you should discuss your questions with an attorney.
An experienced employment law attorney will be able to help you correct the problem if your rights are being violated.
Can I sue for wage theft without being fired?
The FLSA has an anti-retaliation provision that prevents employers from firing or demoting an employee in order to “get back” at employees who file lawsuits to recover unpaid wages.
One of the most common instances where this occurs is paid overtime.
Employers are required to pay non-exempt employees time and a half for hours that the employee works over forty (40) hours a week.
In an attempt to avoid paying the extra compensation, employers will often classify employees as “exempt,” after which, the employer will not pay the employee the overtime that the employee is entitled to as a true “non-exempt” employee.
If you are in this situation, the best thing that you can do is discussing your situation with an attorney.
Employers often do not take employees seriously if they complain about the wages that they receive; in fact, we see these types of cases all the time in our practice.
If you have an experienced attorney on your side your employer will know that they should take your claim more seriously.
Are pay raises required?
Employers are not required to raise an employee’s pay.
The pay that the employee receives is left up to the employer under the Texas employment-at-will regime.
Of course, employees are free to enter into negotiations regarding pay with their employer at almost any time, in which case, it would be advisable to maintain legal counsel for advisement.
Remember that employers must pay their employees at least the minimum wage.
If employers do not pay the minimum wage, they are almost always violating the law, both state and federal.
If I need to see a lawyer, are the attorney’s fees negotiable?
One of the biggest concerns that people have when they need to see an attorney is how they can afford the attorney’s fees.
At Hutchison & Stoy, PLLC, we work on a contingency fee basis.
This means that we receive a percentage of damages (i.e., money) that you recover from your lawsuit.
This also means that you do not have to pay your attorney unless you recover damages from your lawsuit.
The lawyers at Hutchison & Stoy, PLLC offer free case consultations to individuals who are attempting to determine what their legal rights.