Here at Forester Haynie one of our favorite mottos is Work Shouldn’t Suck. It seems pretty obvious to us, but a lot of companies don’t seem to agree. This is why we started our #WorkShouldn’tSuck campaign.
To us, this means a lot more than those three little words might suggest. It means employees’ rights should be protected and their interests should be considered. It means employers should treat their employees with respect and integrity every day. And it means everyone in the office should be appreciated for their hard work.
As a firm, our main focus is to help members of our community when their employers violate employment law. We are painfully aware that not every employer shares our firm’s values. What did surprise us, however, was how common it is for law firms, in particular, to underpay their clerks and interns – or not pay them at all. Unlike other entry-level positions, law firms obviously hire law students, meaning they are hiring individuals with Bachelor’s degrees and career experience at pay rates that simply are not competitive with other markets. This is, of course, assuming interns are being paid at all.
Unpaid internships are common in many industries, and particularly so in the public interest legal area, where it has become the norm for those seeking public interest positions to work for free. Over the years, it has remained a consistent practice for many companies to not pay their interns. Partially to blame are the lax regulations and inconsistent case law. The Department of Labor uses a multi-factor test to determine whether interns are employees under the FLSA, thereby entitling them to be paid the minimum wage. This test turns on the unique circumstances of each case, though, making uniformity difficult.
Undeniably, the prevalence of unpaid internships has a negative effect on many graduates and students, particularly those with considerable student loan debt and those who may not be able to afford to take unpaid positions.
From Day one, Forester Haynie has understood the value its law clerks, interns, and paralegals bring to the firm. In many ways, our law clerks are the backbone of our organization. Their work is a little more “behind the scenes” but they work hard to better the community and seek justice by personally speaking to our clients every day. Paying our interns, and providing them with the skills and insight they will need when pursuing their own careers, is just one way we show our appreciation for these critical members of our firm.
We strive every day to help those in our community who have suffered at the hand of their employers. We understand that #WorkShouldn’tSuck and that means starting with us.
Many wage violations are industry-wide and you may already be a member of a class action. If you are worried you may be being taken advantage of by your employer, please contact us below.
Whether you’re a waiter, pizza delivery driver, restaurant assistant manager, call center worker, or any other type of employee we want to help. You matter and you have rights.
Your unpaid wage claim may be decreasing with each day’s delay so contact us via the form below to see if you may have a claim or call us at 844-999-WAGE (9243):
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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a United States labor law that first established the right to minimum wage and overtime pay. While this law covers the majority of Americans, there are a few exceptions that make employees exempt from these standards. Unfortunately, there are many employers who are actually incorrectly classifying their employees as exempt, or incorrectly compensating their non-exempt employees.
While this law covers the majority of Americans, it’s important to note that make employees exempt from these standards. Salaried employees, tipped employees, or independent contractors may all be exempt from federal minimum wage and overtime standards.
As a salaried employee you are paid a fixed amount of money each year, regardless of how many hours you worked. These employees are considered “exempt” from the minimum wage and overtime way regulations. Job titles don’t determine exempt status, in order to be considered exempt employees must meet certain standards to be legally considered exempt. Some employers intentionally or accidentally overlook these extra standards meaning many salaried employees are misclassified and aren’t actually ‘exempt’ and should be eligible for overtime pay.
Employers are expected to pay their employees minimum wage but can get away with paying a reduced hourly wage by using what’s called a tip credit. You’ve probably heard of this before in reference to restaurant workers or delivery drivers. Employees can be paid below the hourly minimum wage because the expectation is that they will make up this loss in tips. These employees hourly wages + tips must still add up to at least the federal minimum wage each paycheck. It’s important to note that these tips fully belong to the employee and the employer is prohibited from using these tips for anything other than towards the tip credit.
An Independent Contractor is someone who is not dependent on the business. Contractors work as needed for a company and are most likely subject to law/instruction from a staffing agency. As a non-employee independent contractors must pay their own taxes and are subject to self-employment taxes. But, just because you’ve been told by your employer that you’re an independent contractor, been given a 1099, or signed paperwork agreeing to be an independent contractor, does not mean you are legally an independent contractor under federal law. In fact, many employers have illegally and incorrectly classified their workers as independent contractors. Take a look at the fallout that Uber and Lyft and Microsoft faced after misclassifying their employees.