The state of Arizona does not have any laws governing overtime. Instead, the state defers to federal law under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938.
The FLSA offers just one piece of guidance on overtime: that employees are due time-and-a-half pay for any time worked over 40 hours in a single workweek. Employers cannot require off-the-clock overtime, but unfortunately, they have the right to impose mandatory overtime, and there is no cap on how much overtime they can require.
However, if you believe you are being singled out for mandatory overtime due to discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, or if your employer fails to compensate you for overtime work, then you might have a case against your employer.
You can file a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and request an investigation, and you have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the employer. Before you take action, though, it’s best to consult with an employment-law attorney to determine the best course of action.
While employees aren’t afforded much protection regarding overtime, there are a handful of core rights guaranteed by federal law. This includes:
- The right to fair compensation
- The right to a safe workplace
- The right to worker’s compensation
- The right to a workplace free from discrimination
- The right to a workplace free from sexual harassment
- The right to reasonable accommodation for disabilities
- Protection against employer retaliation
The Right to Fair Compensation
One of the primary purposes of the FLSA was to establish a minimum wage and require employers to pay additional compensation for overtime. This federal law provides the floor for hourly-wages at $7.25/hour for standard time, and $10.87/hour for overtime.
However, states are granted the authority to offer additional regulations on the matter. Arizona, for example, has a minimum wage of $10.00/hour, and by extension requires $15.00/hour for overtime.
The state has also passed legislation that will incrementally raise the minimum wage to keep up with the rising cost of living. According to ARS 23-363, the minimum wage will rise according to the following schedule:
- $10.50/hour in 2018
- $11.00/hour in 2019
- $12.00/hour in 2020
- Starting in 2021, the minimum wage will continue to rise appropriately based on the annual increase of the consumer price index
While this is certainly better than the federal minimum, there are some states who take the matter further. One of the best states for overtime regulations is California, which requires employers to pay time-and-a-half after eight hours in a single day, and double-time after 12 hours in a single day.
Tipped employees are a notable exception to the law. Federal law defines tipped employees as those who receive more than $30 per month in tipped wages. Under Arizona state law, employers may pay tipped employees up to $3/hour less than the minimum wage as long as the employee’s total income amounts to at least the minimum wage.
The Right to a Safe Workplace
Every employee has the right to operate in a safe workplace with proper training. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees this area, and specifically guarantees the following rights:
- The ability to use safe machinery
- Protection against exposure to toxic chemicals
- Being provided required safety gear
- Receiving training in a language that you understand
- The freedom to file a complaint or request a safety inspection
- The freedom to speak with an inspector if the OSHA orders an investigation
- The ability to request copies of test results from an investigation
- The ability to receive copies of your medical records
- The ability to report injuries and illnesses
- The freedom to view copies of the workplace injury and illness log
- The freedom to review the company’s records of work-related injuries and illnesses
The Right to Worker’s Compensation
Any employee who is injured on the job should be eligible for benefit-pay through worker’s compensation. An employer isn’t necessarily required to hold an injured employee’s job during their absence, but they are required to provide the employee with a new job that offers the same compensation and benefits as their previous position.
If you are denied sufficient medical treatment or worker’s compensation, or if your employer doesn’t provide you a job with similar pay and benefits when you return to work, you can file a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (OWCP).
The Right to a Workplace Free from Discrimination
Every employee is afforded the right to operate in a workplace that is free from discrimination. Under federal law, an employer cannot make important decisions based on an employee or applicant’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.
Under no circumstance can an employer consider any of these traits when considering promotions, hiring, compensation, termination, or terms of employment. Any breaches of these rights will be investigated by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and are subject to civil lawsuits by mistreated employees and job-applicants.
The Right to a Workplace Free from Sexual Harassment
All employees are guaranteed the ability to enjoy a workplace without sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 considers sexual harassment a form of discrimination, and therefore places it under the purview of the EEOC.
The EEOC seeks to offer employees protection against any form of harassment, especially when the harassment creates a hostile work environment. In particular, the EEOC guards against four types of sexual harassment:
- Requests for sexual favors
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Sexual or verbal activity that interferes with your ability to perform your duties
- Sexual or verbal activity that fosters a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment
The Right to Reasonable Accommodation for Disabilities
If a job applicant or an employee with a disability is qualified for a position, and if they can perform the essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodations, an employer cannot discriminate against them based on their disability.
When it comes to defining what qualifies as a disability, the Americans with Disabilities Act offers the following guidance:
- Any mental or physical impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities
- Any record of impairment
- Being regarded as having an impairment
Protection Against Employer Retaliation
For all of the previously mentioned rights, an employee has the right to file a complaint and participate in a federal investigation without fear of reprisal from the employer. This is commonly known as “whistleblower protection.”
Federal law prohibits employers from retaliatory actions against an employee who engages in a protected activity, including:
- Asking managers or coworkers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages
- Requesting accommodation for a disability or a religious practice
- Filing a complaint, or serving as a witness in a formal investigation or lawsuit
- Refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
- Lodging a complaint with a manager or supervisor about discrimination or harassment
- Answering questions in the course of an employer-led investigation into alleged harassment
- Resisting sexual advances, or intervening to protect others from unwelcome sexual advances
If you participate in a formal complaint, you are protected from any form of retaliation, even those not listed above. In general, any action taken to oppose discrimination could be considered a protected activity as long as you acted in good faith and had a reason to believe federal employee-protection laws were being violated.
Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.