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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Arizona is currently a right-to-work state, but could a new act proposed by Congress change that?
What Does Right to Work Mean?
As one of 27 states across the country, Arizona is considered a right-to-work state. What does this mean? It simply means that employees are not required to join a union or required to pay dues to a labor union. This gives employees much more financial freedom. However, under this law, an employer can terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all.
The PRO Act
The PRO Act could jeopardize the state’s current labor laws. It was first introduced on February 4th and was passed by the House on March 9th. Now, the fate of the PRO Act is in the hands of the Senate. And if passed, we could see major changes surrounding labor laws for the first time in 70 years.
How Would the PRO Act Impact Arizona?
If passed, the PRO Act would restrict the right of unionized businesses, ending current right-to-work laws. Since Arizona employees are not required to join a union or pay dues, the new PRO Act would overturn this. This means that employees would be expected to pay union dues as part of their employment. The goal of the act is to increase union-represented employees along with increasing the power of unions.
Under the PRO Act, the definition of an employee would also expand to include independent contractors. This would cause employers to reclassify independent contractors as employees to help deal with the extra costs and pretty much decrease the amount of independent contractors available.
Nothing is set in stone and many feel that the PRO Act will not survive past the Senate. However, it is always best to be prepared and watch the progress of the act so you know what to expect as an employer or an employee. Talking with our team of legal experts will help you make the proactive steps needed to deal with any labor law changes in Arizona.
The pandemic has brought on many changes in the workplace. So, it is a good time to revisit wage and hour policies during these uncertain times.
Running a business can be tough, especially during these tough times. However, a business owner needs to always be in the know and keep up with new policies. They also need to adapt and make any changes needed to keep up with the new circumstances. Remember, always look to better your business and keep the best interest of your employees in mind.
Since telecommuting has become more popular, more employees working from home means policies need to be updated. These policies need to describe these changes and set new telecommute policies and boundaries in place.
Keeping Track of Time Worked
Even though employees are working at home, punch clocks and other protocols need to be enforced. It can be difficult to manage hours worked, any overtime worked, and any breaks taken. Luckily, you can easily amend these policies to better fit the current telecommunication circumstances.
How can you achieve this? By setting schedules, using timekeeping management, and establishing clear work hours. The key is to be consistent with these new policies and communicating them to your employees.
Make sure to set clear expectations of responsiveness and availability to avoid any conflicts. Changes may need to be made as things continue, but you can still roll with the punches for an efficient workday.
Help Employees Avoid Distractions
It may seem strict, but setting schedules and making sure that work is actually done on the clock and not off the clock, might be needed for some employees.
Employees face many additional distractions when working from home. This can make it difficult for them to manage their time. Help them eliminate distractions and stay on track by sticking to a strict schedule.
To help keep track of things even more, always require approval for overtime work since this is very hard to manage remotely, especially for hourly workers.
Of course, you want to encourage employees to document everything accurately. This is when you might want to invest in management software to help keep track of projects, deadlines, and hours… all in one place. Have questions regarding current labor laws or employee wage policies? The team at Hernandez Law can help point you in the right direction.