What rights do I have if I am being underpaid?

My father worked in the company I am currently employed at for over 45 years and was paid a salary of $9.50 for most of his life. He passed on making that much about 2 years ago and I was wondering if that is legal in any way. I have been with the company about 6 years straight but have been working on and off since I was 16 or so. I still currently make $8. I am the company sheet metal worker and I’ve seen other companies that pay about $13.50 an hour for what I do at minimum. I feel this is very unfair not only to myself but the rest of the company employees who like myself feel overworked and underpayed.

Asked on October 18, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, the law does not require fairness: an employer is free to pay its workers much less than other employers do, so long as it does not violate minimum wage or overtime law (see below). As long as those elements of the law are not violated, an employer may pay as little as it wants,  or underpay it workers by a huge margin compated to other companies, and if people will work for that amount, the company comes out ahead; if it can't find anyone to work for low pay, it will need to either increase what it offers or go out of business.

Minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, so long as you are paid at least $7.25 for each hour you work, that is not violated.

Overtime requires that you get time and a half (so in your case, $12.00 per hour) for all hours worked past 40 in a single work week. If you have not been receiving overtime, you may have a legal claim for the unpaid wages and possibly other damages or compensation, too. Good luck.


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