Wage and Hour Complaints

January 4, 2016  |  Employment, FLSA, Labor, wage and hour

     We have received more calls than usual lately from employees complaining about their employers not paying them correctly.  Here is some basic information on compensation requirements under the law. 

     Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Kentucky’s wage and hour statutes, your employer is required to pay you at least minimum wage, which is currently set at $7.25 per hour.  Keep in mind that the minimum wage applies even if you work on commission.  So, for example, if you are a car or appliance salesperson and you don’t make enough in commission to equal $7.25 for every hour you worked (ex: you worked 100 hours but earned only $600 in commission, thereby falling $125 below minimum wage), your employer must supplement your paycheck so that minimum wage is reached.  (Note: If your employer tries to collect that supplemental payment back from you, perhaps in a draw system, you need to speak to an attorney.  Very intricate laws control that scenario, and your employer may be violating your rights.)  

     People who work in service industries and earn tips as part of their salaries are similarly situated.  Although your employer may be able to take a tip credit, which means they can pay you less money hourly because their payments to you are being supplemented by the tips you earn, the total must still equal or exceed minimum wage.  Under both federal and Kentucky law, the current tip credit rate is $2.13 per hour.  So, let’s say you are a server working at a restaurant.  Your employer is within its rights to pay you $2.13 an hour if you earn at least $5.12 in tips for that hour of work.  If your $2.13 an hour plus the tips you earn doesn’t equal or exceed $7.25 per hour, you may be entitled to additional compensation.

     Another thing for restaurant employees to keep in mind is that you cannot be forced to work off the clock.  Having worked in the restaurant industry myself, I know this happens all too frequently.  Your boss cannot make you come into work early to clean or set-up for the shift without paying you.  Nor can your employer schedule you to come in at a specific time and then make you wait to clock in until your first table assignment is ready or the previous shift clocks out.  Your boss cannot make you clock out early to finish your sidework without paying you.  Also, if doing sidework exceeds 20% of your time at work, your employer must pay you the full $7.25 per hour for that time, not the $2.13 per hour tip credit rate.  Additionally, some tasks that may be assigned should never be paid at the $2.13 rate, such as cleaning bathrooms, scraping gum off baseboards, and sweeping parking lots.  (This is just a short sample of unrelated tasks that should be compensated at full minimum wage.  For advice specific to your personal situation, you need to contact an employment law attorney.) 

     More answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found at the Department of Labor websites for both Kentucky ( and the federal government (  If these sites do not answer the particular questions you have, please contact an attorney to make sure that you are being compensated as required by law. 


Author: Megan E. Mersch (2016 Super Lawyers Rising Star in Employment and Labor Law)