Moving wage law forward

Our skilled and experienced litigators have represented clients in federal and state courts throughout South Carolina.

From complaints through the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (SC LLR) to litigation aimed at helping union workers collect vacation pay, or overtime pay, the employment lawyers at Burnette Shutt & McDaniel have helped with a range of wage disputes.

We have assisted with complaints involving the Federal Labor Standards Act. This includes overtime pay and other wage and hour issues. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) investigates and enforces the FLSA.

With two South Carolina Supreme Court Certified Labor and Employment Law Specialists among our partners, we can assist employers and employees with legal advice. We also can pursue a lawsuit, grievance or complaint.

Unlike many states, South Carolina doesn’t have a minimum wage so the federal amount applies. South Carolina wage and hour law does, however, have requirements that go beyond FLSA. Palmetto State employers don’t have to offer paid vacation, sick leave or breaks. If they do, though, they must put the information in writing. South Carolina law also covers how and when employees are to be paid.

Types of wage disputes

Most wage disputes in South Carolina and across the country fall into these categories.

Failure to pay: South Carolina law prohibits unauthorized deductions from a paycheck. Employers can’t, for example, dock pay for shortages in a cash register unless there’s a written policy. Failure to pay wage disputes also can occur if a company can’t meet payroll.

Final pay: South Carolina has strict requirements for pay when an employee leaves, either voluntarily or after a firing. The worker must receive all wages within 48 hours  or on the next regular pay day, not to exceed 30 days. If a company fails to do so, the former employee can sue and might collect triple the amount of unpaid wages plus court and attorney’s fees.

Classification: There are exceptions to minimum wage, including pay for young workers, full-time student and supervisors. At times disagreements arise over whether an employ is in the correct category. This most commonly occurs in the case of supervisors, who employers claim are salaried and exempt from overtime pay.

Travel time: In some situations, employers must pay workers for time on the road. Travel from job site to job site typically is paid time. So, too, is travel away from the home office during regular work hours.

Break time:  South Carolina doesn’t require a lunch hour or breaks. Companies that offer either should make sure workers are completely off duty during those times. Eating lunch at a desk and answering phones between bites is work, not a break.

Tipped employees: Under federal law, “tipped employees” are those who regularly receive more than $30 a month in tips. Employers can pay these workers a lower rate, though they must make up the difference if wages and tips don’t equal minimum wage. Employers can’t keep tips, though they can establish pools that spread the money among personnel who usually receive tips. Disputes arise when workers such as dishwashers are part of the pools. Occasionally, an employer will try to illegally keep part of a worker’s tips.

Skilled legal representation in wage disputes

Employees who come to us for help can count on knowledgeable representation and quick action. In cases such as these time truly is money. Delays can put a client’s financial health in peril.

Employers who consult us can be confident that we will help craft policies that meet state and federal law. We also can review existing policies for compliance or offer advice if an employee has made an official complaint.