Wage and Hour
“This has been a very stressful time in my life and being able to speak with someone who understands the system has been a great comfort. Every time I have needed to speak with her, she has promptly called me back. ”
– Patricia P.,WA
Washington has a long and proud history of being a pioneer in the protection of employee rights.
The Washington Minimum Wage Act (“MWA”) establishes the state’s minimum wage, the right to overtime pay, and what the employer’s obligations are in regards to keeping records of hours worked by their employees. See Chapter 49.46 of the RCW for the Act.
Overtime: RCW 49.46.130(1) requires that all hours worked in excess of forty hours a week must be compensated at a rate of time-and-one-half the employee’s regular pay rate. However, there are certain exemptions to this.
Meal and Rest Periods: WAC 296-126-092 provides that employers must give their employees a meal period of at least 30 minutes for every 5 hours worked, and 10 minute rest periods for every 4 hours worked. Intermittent rest breaks that add up to 10 minutes for every 4 hours worked is acceptable.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”) is the federal counterpart of the MWA. Many of the MAW definitions are taken from the MWA.
Retaliation: If you feel that you were retaliated against because you complained to your employer or to the state that your rights were violated pursuant to RCW 49.46, or for filing or about to file proceedings related to RCW 49.46, or for testifying or about to testify in proceedings related to RCW 49.46, you may have a retaliation claim against your employer.
Attorney’s Fees: Fortunately, the MWA and a few related state statutes provide for an award of attorney’s fees to employees if they are successful. The FLSA also provides for a similar fee award for successful employees. This means that if you bring a wage and hour claim and win, the court may award you attorney’s fees and the employer bears that cost.
Statute of Limitations: Like many other legal claims, your wage and hour claim may be barred if you miss the statute of limitations to file a claim. I strongly advise you to consult an attorney immediately upon knowledge of a wage and hour violation by your employer.