A worker’s right to receive their promised wages is obviously one of the primary motivators for an employee to enter into a relationship with their employer. It is clearly unfair for an employer to offer a certain specific compensation, inducing the employee to rely on that representation and provide work for the employer, only to have the employer not keep their promise after the employee provides his or her labor.
Recognizing this, the New Hampshire legislature enacted RSA 275 and RSA 279, both of which provide certain wage and hour protections for employees, in addition to the rights guaranteed to employees through the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
RSA 275:42, III defines “wages” as almost any consideration or compensation promised by an employer in exchange for the employee’s labor. That includes fringe benefits like health and dental insurance, 401K or other retirement plan contributions, vacation and sick time, and bonus and commission plans. Our employment attorneys could advocate for you to receive the compensation you are owed. Our Concord wage and hour lawyers have experience litigating on behalf of employees who are being treated unfairly by the company they work for.
An important aspect of New Hampshire law concerning wages is that once wages are earned and “vested” in favor of the employee, the employer cannot retroactively change the employee’s rate of pay or decide not to pay commissions or other benefits. Another important element of New Hampshire wage and hour law is that an employee cannot “waive” a wage claim, pursuant to RSA 275:45, II and RSA 275:50. This law is intended to prevent employers from “strong-arming” employees into foregoing wages they earned.
When an employee is terminated by their employer, RSA 275:44 requires that the employer pay the employee any wages due and owing within 72 hours.
Every employer in Concord must provide hourly workers with at least the minimum hourly wage. In addition, employers must also provide overtime pay for hourly worker who spend any time on the job beyond 40 hours each week. Failure to provide pay at this rate is illegal under both federal and state law. Employers that participate in these schemes may face criminal investigations and are civilly liable to their workers.
Our Concord wage and hour attorneys could help you to collect wages you are owed due to violations of your rights as a worker. Employees with wage claims usually have a choice to pursue their claims in the New Hampshire Department of Labor or in the New Hampshire Superior Court. Which of those forums is tactically correct for your claim? The answer will likely depend on subtle differences from one claim to another. Our skilled employment attorneys can help you decide whether a DOL hearing is the right venue for your claim, or whether you would be better served by filing in Superior Court.
Companies that violate the minimum wage laws or unlawfully withhold earned wages or benefits could face severe consequences. NH RSA 279:28 says that paying less than minimum wage is a felony. Individual people who commit this offense are guilty of a misdemeanor. RSA 275:52 and RSA 275:52-a provide criminal penalties for employers who fail to pay wages or contributions to certain benefit plans.
Failure to pay wages that an employee has earned can invite serious civil penalties as well. RSA 275:44, IV states that if an employer “willfully and without good cause” refuses to pay an employee wages that the employee is owed, the employer shall be required to pay “liquidated damages” in an amount equal to the wages owed. In other words, the employer may have to pay double damages if the employee prevails on his or her wage claim. In addition, RSA 275:53, III allows a court to award a prevailing plaintiff his or her attorneys’ fees. This means that a wage claim can have real consequences for an employer.
Talking with a skilled Concord lawyer could help people to determine if they have the right to demand compensation in the form of back wages for hours worked, and whether they may have a right to seek penalties like liquidated damages, in court or through the Department of Labor.
A Concord wage and hour lawyer may be able to help you to collect the wages you have earned. They could work to explain the state’s wage laws, investigate the actions of employers, and pursue lawsuits that vindicate your rights to receive the income that you have earned. Get in touch today.