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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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If an employee is made manager, enhances sales and customer

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If an employee is made manager, enhances sales and customer base, is awarded best in the chain, works late in the evening to ready for large events, buys her own supplies for the store because the owner will not and accomplishes tasks at said large events that the employer is unable to arrange, is it lawful for the employer to refuse overtime and wages during the event, belittle the employee in front of others and suspend employee for a week without pay which as a single parent is a great hardship?
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you, I will do everything I can to answer your question.

Is the employee in this hypothetical being paid on an hourly or salaried basis? If they are salaried, has their employer classified them as "overtime exempt" (whereby the salary compenates the employee for their efforts without regard to the number of hours the employee works).

I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The employee is paid hourly.

Thank you for your clarification.

As an hourly employee, this worker is entitled to their agreed upon hourly wage for all time during which she is "suffered or permitted to work." (29 USC 203(g) et seq.) Unless the employer specifically forbade the employee from working these hours for event prep or had no reason to even suspect that such hours would be worked, the employer is obligated to pay the employee for that time, regardless of whether they are displeased with the outcome of the event or it did not produce a company profit. Moreover, the willful failure to pay these wages can actually constitute a crime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

An employee who is denied compensation for worked time can file a wage claim with the Washington Department of Labor & Industries. Please find the page to start such a complaint here:

The employer against whom such complaint is filed will be legally prohibited from retaliating against the employee as a consequence of their complaint. Any deduction in wages, demotion, or termination that might occur as a consequence of the employee asserting her right to be paid will give rise to an entirely separate claim for damages that is actionable in civil court.

If the employee can link her suspension to her insistence that she be paid for worked time, that would qualify as a consequential damage giving rise to a claim for retaliation. If, however, no such connection can be made, employers otherwise enjoy tremendous freedom to hire, fire and disicpline employees as they see fit and so such suspension would not constitute any violation of law.

Rude and belittling comments, while entirely unprofessional, are not illegal unless the comments are attacking an employee on the basis of a legally protected trait, such as race, religion, or gender. So, for example, while it would be illegal to yell racial slurs at an employee, it is not illegal to berate them or yell at them for "incompetence."

In summary, an employee under the circumstances you describe is absolutely entitled to payment for the hours that they worked unless their employer had no reason to suspect that such time was being worked or the employer eprssly forbade the employee from completing that work. An employee who is denied wages can file a wage claim using the link above and they will be legally insulated from retaliation. The employee's suspension would be illegal if it occurred in retaliation for the employee insisting on being paid, but otherwise it would be legal since employers retain vast discretion to hire, fire and discipline employees regardless of what is fair or deserved. Finally, rude and belittling comments are not illegal unless they relate to a protected trait.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes to you and thank you so much for coming to Just Answer.
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