How Minimum Wage Increases Affect Tipped Employees In Arizona

How Minimum Wage Increases Affect Tipped Employees In Arizona

In 2016, Arizona voted in favor of Proposition 206 to not only increase minimum wage each year, but also guarantee benefits like paid sick time. For most 9-5’ers this is a pretty black and white adjustment, but for service industry workers and other tipped employees, this can be a bit more complicated. 

As a tipped employee, it’s imperative you keep track of the annual minimum wage increases and your current hourly rate. If your hourly rate falls below the minimum wage, your employer is legally bound to pay you the difference. This is also the case if you’re being asked to do work outside of your role that does not directly contribute to your tips. 

You should know that if you’re on the clock as a tipped employee and constantly being asked to do work that is not “tip producing work” (i.e. your job or related side work) your employer may be taking advantage of your low wage. Believe it or not, there are laws in place to make sure that you are being paid fairly for your hard work and making at least minimum wage at all times. 

If you think your employer is taking advantage of your hourly wage, or is not paying you the legal minimum, you should consult with an employment lawyer to see what your options are. You don’t have to defend yourself or take this on alone. An experienced employment lawyer is not only knowledgeable about state law but will defend your rights as a hard working employee and get you the money you deserve. 

Minimum Wage For Tipped And Non-Tipped Employees in Arizona

As of January 2022, the minimum wage in Arizona is $12.80 per hour for all non-tipped employees. Unfortunately, whether you’re a tipped employee or not has a big impact on your hourly rate. If you are receiving tips for your hard work, your employer only needs to prove you’re consistently earning above minimum wage to claim a tip credit to reduce your hourly wage. 

For example, the hourly rate for tipped employees is only $9.80. This means that as long as you are regularly earning an extra $2 per hour in tips, your employer does not have to pay you the legal minimum of $12.80 per hour. Sadly, because of the lower hourly rate, this also means tipped employees are the most likely to be exploited. As a tipped employee, you should always track your hourly earnings and make sure you’re not falling below the minimum. Not only should you be keeping record of your hourly rate but also the kind of work you’re performing on the clock. The Department of Labor has specific laws and regulations in place to make sure you’re being paid fairly no matter what kind of work you’re doing. The D.O.L. refers to this as tip producing work and non-tip producing work. 

What is Tip Producing Work vs Non-Tip Producing Work 

Tip producing work is work that is directly related to your job and ability to earn tips. For example taking orders as a server, making drinks as a bartender, doing a manicure as a nail technician and any related side work like rolling silverware, stocking glasses, or cleaning your workstation. Non-tip supporting work, on the other hand, is performing duties outside your role, such as, cleaning hotel rooms as a valet, cleaning bathrooms as a server, or ordering shop supplies as a receptionist. 

Known as the 80/20 rule, if you’re being asked to perform non-tip supporting work for more than 30 minute durations, or exceeding more than 20% of your total weekly hours, according to the Department of Labor, you are entitled to the full minimum wage pay. 

If you have kept accurate and detailed records of the work you performed, you should first speak with your manager or HR department. If that doesn’t resolve the issues, then contact a specialized employment lawyer immediately. 

How and Arizona Employment Lawyer Can Help Your Case

The employment lawyers at Hernandez Law Firm should be your go to for anything related to discrimination, harassment, equal and fair pay, and other discrepancies in the work place. They have the experience and specialized knowledge to defend your case and protect your rights as an Arizona employee. 

Equal Pay Issues In The Workplace

Equal Pay Issues In The Workplace

Even if you aren’t a soccer fan, you may have seen the women’s soccer team make history once again, but this time for a different reason. They won a lawsuit against the soccer federation claiming they were paid less than their male colleagues for working the same job, violating what’s known as Equal Pay. If the idea of women getting paid less than men for doing the same job seems confusing and illegal, it is. The Equal Pay Act has been around for almost 60 years which means no one should be paid less or more based on their sex alone. Despite that being the case, according to recent surveys women are still paid less than their male colleges. 

Handling descrimination cases requires skill, experience and tact. Since Arizona is an “at-will” state, you may fear being wrongfully terminated for investigating pay gaps, and discrimination in the work place. If you feel that you are being discriminated against or paid unfair wages, let a specialized Arizona employment lawyer handle your case. They can guide you on how to collect evidence to help build and win your lawsuit. 

The Equal Pay Act

Legally speaking, the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963 which means any disparity in pay based on sex alone, should have been rectified long ago. If that were the case, however, the women’s soccer team would not have success in their lawsuit. 

The Equal Pay Act states that employers are not allowed to pay employees different wages based on sex alone, also known as sexual discrimination. Most basically that means, equal pay for equal work. Unfortunately, as with many things, loopholes exist and it seems that law isn’t always being upheld. Though the wage gap between men and women is closing, as of 2020, women are purportedly paid around 80 cents per dollar compared to their male co-workers. 

What to do if You Think You’re Being Paid Less Based on Your Sex

Determining if your employer is engaging in sexual decriimination is very complicated. Here are some things you can do to gather evidence to help build your case. 

  • Discreetly gather salary information from your co-workers (men and women)
  • Document everything
  • Determine without a doubt if sexual decrimination is occuring
  • Follow any procedures outlined by your HR department for pursuing discrimincation
  • Speak with your manager and escalate the issue if they don’t rectify the problem
  • Contact a lawyer if it doesn’t get resolved

Equal Pay and At-Will Work State

Arizona is an ‘at-will’ work state which means both employees and employers have the legal right to terminate employment for any reason that doesn’t violate civil rights. However, regardless of if your employment is at-will, your right to equal pay for equal work is still legally protected. If you’re being paid less than you should, instead of quitting and finding another job (where likely you could run into the same issue), demand equal pay and follow legal actions if your employer refuses. If you suddenly get terminated while you’re openly investigating work place discrimination, you can also sue for wrongful termination. 

It may be hard to believe that in 2022, men and women are compensated differently for doing the same work, but as the women’s soccer team has legally determined, it still very much happens. Don’t let yourself be a victim of sexual discrimination in the work place for fear of retaliation or termination. If you’re unable to get the equal pay you deserve on your own, contact a knowledgeable and experienced Arizona employment lawyer immediately. 

Are Unions Coming to Arizona?

Are Unions Coming to Arizona?

Lately, headlines about the employment industry are focused on a trend called ‘The Great Resignation’ which is centered around an increase of employees quitting in the retail, service and hospitality fields. True or not, it seems that many people have started to put into perspective the quality of their lives and careers and have begun to ask themselves what they want and deserve in a workplace. 

Furthermore, there has also been a recent push towards unions, employee benefits and the negotiation of living wages. With that said, since Arizona is a Right-To-Work state, you might be asking, “are unions coming to Arizona?” and what does that mean for you? 

Are Unions Making A Come Back?

Some of the biggest industries strained by the pandemic and high unemployment rates are restaurants and hospitality. Workers have been forced to work extra hours to cover staff shortages and have taken the brunt of consumer’s stress around pandemic fears, mask mandates and delays in services. Have these types of frustrating working conditions prompted a resurgence of interest in unions?

Historically, food services have never included unions. But there are two companies making history this month in regards to forming unions: Burgerville in Washington state, and a small group of Starbucks locations in Buffalo, New York. 

Burgerville based in Washington is the first ever fast-food chain to make preliminary arrangements to unionize. This landmark victory is the result of over three and half years and grants employees paid vacation, parental leave, and more. The company is celebrating this news calling it “progress” with the hope that it will return workers to the industry. 

Joining them in the fight for unions is a small group of Starbucks in Buffalo, New York. This would be another huge feat considering Starbucks is notorious for being anti-union. The workers at three locations in Buffalo have voiced their concerns and frustrations about being “essential workers,” while lacking say and authority in their own working conditions. 

These two companies are attempting to overcome huge obstacles to get unions to form and it could pave the way for other companies in other states. What does that mean for Arizona, which is a right to work state?

Arizona As A Right-To-Work State and Unions

As we’ve mentioned before, Arizona is a Right-to-Work State but what does that mean in terms of unions and do the two conflict? Technically, unions are allowed to form in every state, however, they cannot coerce employees to join them or pay membership dues. Currently, Arizona has over 200 unions that represent approximately 155,000 employees across the state.

That being said, as a Right-To-Work state, employees have the option to join a union but are legally protected if they chose not to and cannot thus be terminated or denied employment or benefits. 

Protecting Your Employment Rights in Regards to Unions

It’s important to remember that in Arizona, you have the freedom to work wherever you want. If you feel like you’re being treated unfairly in the workplace, or your worker’s rights aren’t being honored, contact a specialized employment lawyer at Hernandez Law Firm. Their team has precise knowledge and experience to understand and fight for your case as an Arizona employee.  

Arizona Employee Rights Surrounding Vaccines

Arizona Employee Rights Surrounding Vaccines

Arizona is one of the states that doesn’t have state masks or vaccination mandates. But the Arizona Attorney General has announced that businesses in the state can actually make workers get vaccinated against COVID-19

Private Business

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has informed businesses across the state that they can require workers to be vaccinated. In addition, these businesses can also demand customers to be vaccinated. 

This means that it is up to the business how they handle vaccination requirements. But, these businesses must also provide accommodations for those who are unable to receive the vaccine due to a disability. Even if religious beliefs play a factor in getting the vaccine, businesses cannot discriminate against the customer. To help businesses deal with these unique situations, it is recommended that they use a staggering schedule, consider telework, and require masks. All of these things can help slow the spread. 

Federal Law

When it comes to federal law and vaccination requirements, it is believed that the government is not allowed to require the company to make any changes, such as requiring employees to get the vaccine. The government simply can’t dictate the business on what to do or even how to go about it. This has of course increased public debate, as the rights of everyone need to be protected but with limiting government involvement. 

Hernandez Law Firm can help your business deal with any policies, including vaccination requirement policies. Our team is here to help you with all labor and employment issues, with integrity and dedication. It is always best to have an experienced lawyer on your side when faced with any employment legal issues. 

New Arizona Law Helps Those With a Criminal Record Find a Job

New Arizona Law Helps Those With a Criminal Record Find a Job

Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona signed a new bill into law, offering help to those with criminal records to get a chance at finding a job.

House Bill 2067 allows convicted criminals the chance to set aside the conviction and obtain a Certificate of Second Chance. This certificate will allow for a second chance at employment, obtaining occupational licenses, and even for housing approval.

What Is A Certificate of Second Chance

Even though a person is unable to erase their criminal record, convicted criminals who have fulfilled their sentence or parole can have the court set aside the conviction to receive a certificate.

This certificate will give those with a felony or misdemeanor a greater chance at employment.

Convicted criminals will get a chance to apply for a Certificate of Second Chance starting on August 27, 2021.

Limitations Are In Place

There are some limitations when it comes to who can apply for a Certificate of Second Chance.

Those who CAN apply for the certificate are those with misdemeanors or with Class 4, Class 5, or Class 6 felonies. Two years must have passed since completing their sentence, including parole and probation.

There are some excluded crimes. Those who have committed the following are unable to apply for a Certificate of Second Chance:

·  Driving under a suspended license

·  Criminal speeding

·  Aggressive driving

·  Crime involving a deadly weapon

·  Any sexual offenses, including those with victims under the age of 15

Obtaining A Certificate of Second Chance

For those who obtain a Certificate of Second Chance, still need to admit to any convictions when asked by an employer. All employers will be able to find that a person was issued a certificate through criminal background checks.

To successfully receive a Certificate of Second Chance, some factors are considered such as:

·  Nature of the offense

·  Compliance of the applicant

·  The age of the applicant at the time of conviction

If you are interested in learning more about a Certificate of Second Chance, speak with our team to learn how we can assist you with the process.