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Is your boss committing wage theft?

Your time is precious to you, especially if you have a family. While your job is important for supporting your family and providing for their needs, you look forward to clocking out and going home. You may be willing to go the extra mile for your employer, but sometimes, you feel as if your boss is taking advantage of you.

Certainly, there are times when you might stay late to finish a project or attend a weekend meeting, but should your employer pay you for those times even if you volunteer? If you are a nonexempt or hourly employee, the Fair Labor Standards Act protects you from employer practices that might be unfair to you, particularly when it comes to pay.

Travel time

If you have an especially long or grueling commute to work, you may feel like your boss should compensate you for your time. However, your drive to work does not count as payable time unless you are traveling between jobsites. You may also receive compensation if you are driving to a different location for a short-term assignment, such as a conference.

Additionally, if such an assignment requires you to travel on a day that is not a normal workday, your employer may still have to pay you for any travel hours that fall between your normal working hours. The pay for travel is not always the same rate of your normal hourly pay, but it can't be less than minimum wage, and you must agree to it.

Professional development

From time to time, you may have to attend a training, meeting or some other form of professional development. In some cases, these are not payable events. However, the FLSA stipulates that your employer must pay you for any training program or activity that meets these standards:

  • Is mandatory
  • Directly applies to the work you do
  • Takes place during your normal working hours
  • Requires you to continue with normal duties during the activity

Therefore, if your employer makes you clock out to attend a training or seminar, he or she may be stealing wages from you.

Your time is your own

Neither federal law nor Arizona laws require employers to offer you an unpaid meal break. If your employer does require you to clock out for a meal, however, he or she may not require you to continue working. If you are off the clock for lunch, for example, your boss may not tell you to sit at your desk to answer the phone or to use your break to answer work-related emails.

An employer who does these things is violating your rights, and you may benefit from seeking legal counsel to address the problem.

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