Wage & Hour Law

Examples of Wage & Hour Law Violations

  • Being asked to perform tasks before you clock in or after you clock out
  • Being required to be at work 15 minutes prior to the time you can clock in
  • A paycheck which is too low, bounces, or is late
  • Having your pay docked for being gone less than one day even though you are classified as “exempt”
  • Being inappropriately classified as “exempt”
  • Deductions from your paycheck that were not authorized by you, the government, or a court
  • Not being paid in full or for your earned vacation time after you quit or are fired
  • Being classified as an independent contractor even though you meet the criteria to be an employee

Don’t be cheated out of what you earn

The law requires that most employers pay at least minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour in Iowa and $9 per hour in Nebraska) for all hours worked.

Employees who are “nonexempt” from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must be paid 1 and 1/2 times their regular wage for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek (overtime). Some managers and other professionals are “exempt” from these overtime regulations. Employers often miscategorize employees as “exempt,” resulting in the employer’s illegal failure to pay overtime compensation.

“Comp time” can be substituted for overtime only for employees of the government.

Iowa law requires that employees be paid on a regular basis (at least monthly) and in full. If your paycheck bounces and you incur overdrafts on your checking account as a result, your employer may be responsible for paying those charges. If your employer fails to pay you a regularly scheduled paycheck, your employer may also be responsible for paying a fine.

Iowa law requires that employees be paid on a regular basis (at least monthly) and in full. If your paycheck bounces and you incur overdrafts on your checking account as a result, your employer may be responsible for paying those charges. If your employer fails to pay you a regularly scheduled paycheck, your employer may also be responsible for paying a fine.

It is a violation of the FLSA, overtime regulations, and other employment laws for your employer to retaliate against you because you make a complaint concerning overtime pay, minimum wage, or unauthorized deductions from your pay. Learn more about retaliation laws.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Wage & Hour Laws

  • Is it really that important to clock in or keep track of my time when I’m only checking work emails or returning a work call?

    Yes. You deserve to be paid for all the time you spend working on behalf of your employer. Those small tasks may only take you a few minutes each time, but that time adds up over the span of a day, or a week, or a month, or a year.

    For example, if you work 5 days/40 hours per week, making $14.50 per hour, but you spend 5 minutes per day checking your work email after hours without logging it, that amounts to 25 minutes per week. This translates to more than $415 in unlogged overtime over the course of one year! If your employer knows about it, that potentially puts them on the hook for state and federal wage violations. It’s much easier, and less painful in the long run, to simply log your time.

  • I don’t get a lunch break or meal break. Is that illegal?

    Under Iowa law, employers generally don’t have to give adult employees lunch or meal breaks. Of course, you should always be allowed to use the toilet, and employees who are less than 16 years old or younger must be given a 30-minute break if they work 5 or more hours per day.

    Nebraska law requires that employees in assembly plants, mechanical establishments, and workshops must receive at least a 30-minute break in each shift of at least 8 hours.

  • Can my employer make me work 60–70 hours per week, or 24-hour shifts?

    The short answer is yes. If you are an hourly or “nonexempt” employee, you still have to be paid overtime for all hours over 40 in a week. But your employer can set your hours or have expectations you might think are unrealistic.

    If you are an exempt, salaried employee, your employer may still set shifts or work expectations that seem unfair, and you will likely not be entitled to any overtime unless you are misclassified.

  • I get paid by the hour, but I’m not given any information about the hours I worked. Is that normal?

    It’s certainly not legal. Every time you receive your paycheck as a nonexempt, hourly employee, you should also receive a paystub which lets you know the hours you worked, the wages you earned, and what deductions were taken out. You should get this paystub through the mail, electronically (through a safe, secure transmission), at work during normal work hours, or free access at work to view it and/or print it. If you are an exempt, salaried employee, your employer is not required to keep track of the hours you work.

  • Can my employer average out my overtime over the two weeks I work per paycheck?

    No. This is wage theft. For example, if you are a nonexempt, hourly employee and you worked 42 hours the first week and 38 hours the second week, you employer is not allowed to average those out to 40 hours per week and pay you no overtime.

    Your employer must keep track of the hours you actually worked, pay you 40 hours at your regular rate plus 2 hours overtime for the first week, and 38 hours at your regular rate the second week.