How Do I Know If I'm Getting Paid Fairly?

Iowa Employment Law

Whether you have recently been offered a job, given a raise, or are analyzing your wages compared to others, you may be wondering what a fair wage is for your position and the work you do. A number of factors decide what makes pay fair – including the work done, experience levels, etc. Certain legal criteria govern what employers must pay their employees.

Federal and State Standards

The federal government sets a minimum wage requirement, with certain exceptions for tipped employees and other types of work. The federal government also maintains provisions for overtime pay requirements for certain employees and situations. In addition, each state may set its own minimum wage and overtime laws.

Wage Theft

If your employer has refused to pay you for all the wages you’ve earned, this is called wage theft. This can occur when an employer does not pay you for activities and time that are integral to your work. These activities may include trainings, travel, overtime, etc. The Iowa Wage Payment Collection Act allows employees to collect back pay owed to them, and does not allow an employer to withhold such pay if they have a claim against that employee.

Fair Pay Among Employees

In Iowa, it is illegal for an employer to pay an employee less based on gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation or other specific factors. Many employers may not be transparent in sharing what other employees are making at your job. However, if you learn that other employees doing the same work you are doing, with commensurate experience, are being paid more, you may have a case and should contact a workplace discrimination lawyer.

Gender Pay Gap

A particularly common issue in fair pay is gender. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits discrimination in pay based on gender. Iowa employment law includes Iowa’s Equal Pay Act of 2009, which requires that women be paid the same as men, doing the same work. However, here in Iowa, women are still paid only 77 cents for every dollar a man is paid. While this is illegal, it often goes unnoticed or accepted, due to lack of transparency.

Benefits and Accruals

When considering your wages, don’t stop at the base pay, whether hourly or salary. Factor in your benefits, health insurance, retirement accounts, leave and sick time, stock options, and other accruals. If you are unsure whether you are being offered fair compensation and benefits, you should contact an attorney experienced with Iowa employment law.

Workplace discrimination lawyers are familiar with both employment law and recent cases. They can spot unfair wage practices and help you receive the compensation your work deserves. If you feel you have been paid unfairly, please contact us at (319) 826-2250 or fill out our contact form.

Working Hard for Their Money: How Iowa Employment Law Protects Employees from Wage Theft

Iowa Employment Law

Iowans are known for their work ethic and so it’s particularly disturbing when an employer doesn’t pay an employee the wages they’ve earned. This is known as wage theft. Iowa employees are protected against wage theft both through a federal law known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) but also through an Iowa law known as the Iowa Wage Payment Collection Act, Iowa Code Chapter 91.A. Unfortunately, a lot of employees don’t know their rights under these employment laws.

The FLSA requires that most employers pay employees minimum wage for hours worked and also requires that employers pay employees one and a half times their regular hourly rate for hours worked over 40. The FLSA also requires that employers count time spent performing certain work as hours worked and prohibits agreements between an employer and an employee to pay the employee less than minimum wage or not to pay the employee overtime owed.

The FLSA requires that employers pay employees for time spent doing things that are “integral and indispensable” to the employees’ work activity. This can include time spent putting on specialized protective equipment and then walking to the employee work station and time spent traveling between worksites. One of the most famous FLSA cases about these issues came out of Iowa—Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo was an Iowa case that went all the way to the US Supreme Court. That case was a class action where employees of the Tyson Meat Packing Plant were awarded back pay, including overtime owed, for time they spent “donning and doffing” protective equipment.

In addition to the FLSA, Iowa employees’ right to wages is protected by the Iowa Wage Payment Collection Act. The Iowa Wage Payment Collection Act requires that an employer pay wages due on regular pay days and that an employer pay the employee all wages on the first regular pay day after the employee’s termination of employment. Many employers violate this law by withholding an employee’s last paycheck or by deducting expenses from a paycheck that are not permissible. Iowa law prohibits an employer from withholding wages for the following:

  1. A cash shortage unless there is a written agreement;

  2. Losses of the employer due to customer non-payment, breakage or bad checks;

  3. Lost or stolen property;

  4. Tips/gratuities received by the employee;

  5. Protective equipment; and

  6. Costs of more than $20 for employee relocation expenses.

The Iowa Wage Payment Collection Act also prohibits an employer from withholding employee wages because they believe they have a claim against that employee.

Both the FLSA and the Iowa Wage Payment Collection Act allow an employee to recover back wages along with liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees and expenses—meaning that if an employer violates one of these laws they wind up paying more than they would if they had simply paid the employee what was owed.

If you have questions about whether your current or former employer has violated employment laws, you should speak with an Iowa employment lawyer to determine if you have a case. Please call us at (319) 826-2250.

Wage Theft - How your employer may be stealing from you without you even knowing.

Iowa Employment Lawyer 

A number of recent class action lawsuits brought by employees against their employers have called attention to the long-time problem of wage theft. Wage theft occurs when an employer fails to pay an employee all of the wages earned by the employee and can happen in any industry and to all types of employees. Here are a few common types of wage theft to watch out for:

  1. Working off the clock: Some employers may require employees to work before or after their scheduled hours doing things like putting on required protective gear, cleaning up or completing required paperwork, but will only pay the employee for the scheduled shift. 
  2. Failing to pay overtime: The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay non-exempt employees time and a half for hours worked over 40. Some employers will fail to pay the increased rate for overtime or may incorrectly classify employees as exempt in an attempt to avoid paying overtime. 
  3. Failing to pay for travel time: Employers are required to pay employees for certain travel time. However some employers refuse to do so. 
  4. Failing to pay for training time: Employers must pay employees while attending certain training sessions that are required by the employer. 
  5. Withholding pay: Some employers may take impermissible deductions from an employee paycheck or may withhold an employee's last check.

For Iowa workers, there are two laws aimed at protecting employees from wage theft—The Fair Labor Standards Act and The Iowa Wage Payment Collection Act. Often, claims for wage theft are filed as class action lawsuits on behalf of all employees of an employer who have been a victim of the theft. Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in a series of cases involving whether employers can include arbitration agreements and class action waiver in their employee agreements. The Court has not yet issued a ruling, but you can read more about the case here

If you believe your employer has committed wage theft and you would like to discuss whether you have a claim against your employer, please call our office at (319) 826-2250