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Is my employer exempt from paying minimum wage?

The minimum wage is intended to create a floor for how little a person can be paid per hour, ensuring that workers are not abused or paid less than a reasonable wage. Does this mean that all employers must pay minimum wage to their respective employees? No, in fact, it does note. Arizona maintains some exceptions to who must pay minimum wage, which can create particularly tricky employment situations if interpreted broadly.

Under Arizona law, you may not be entitled to minimum wage if you are doing work for a parent or sibling. This can have surprisingly far-reaching implications, if a family business is run on the backs of the family members. While it may be a useful exception for families who are sacrificing together to get a business off the ground, it could also be used to unfairly coerce a family member to work long hours for an unfair wage. Similarly, the law allows for babysitting in an employer's home to be done for less than minimum wage, as long as it is on a "casual" basis. Of course, "casual" is a broad term, and may interpreted widely.

It is also worth noting that Arizona retains the right to pay less than minimum wage to employees of the state or to other government employees.

Another interesting example of minimum wage exemption is a small business that grosses less than $500,000 in annual revenue, assuming that small business is already not required to pay minimum wage under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. This is a very small number of businesses, in reality, and it is possible that an employer is claiming this exemption without properly qualifying for it.

If you believe that you are unfairly or illegally being paid below minimum wage, you deserve to have your situation professionally evaluated. Proper legal counsel can help you identify legitimate areas of concern and create a plan for moving forward while keeping your rights protected.

Source: The Zoldan Law Group PLLC, "Wage & Hour Disputes," accessed Feb. 24, 2017

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