Although Texas does not have their own comprehensive labor laws, they do have regulations that offer employees certain rights within the state. These rights affect employees in the private sector and there are numerous law that cover the ‘basics’, such as minimum wage, fair treatment, breaks, and more.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25, and Texas has its own law which covers non-exempt employees. Employees are guaranteed the right to fair wages for their work. The Texas Minimum Wage Act prohibits employers in the state from paying employees a salary that falls below federal minimum wage standards. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are also required to pay overtime to employees who:
- Work more than eight hours a day; or
- Work more than 40 hours a week.
The standard rate of overtime pay is one and one half of an employee’s regular hourly rate, unless an employee works more than twelve hours a day, in which case he or she must be paid double.
If you are entitled to overtime pay, you should have it written in your contract. Companies who fail to pay you for overtime breach the Texas Minimum Wage.
You can also request a higher salary. Restaurant workers will receive $2.13 minimum wage per hour, provided that their tips equal at least the minimum wage.
Lunch and other Breaks
Federal rules do not cover employee breaks throughout the day. Texas law (either the FLSA or Labor Law) doesn’t require employers to provide their employees with breaks.
If an employer chooses to do provide meal breaks, usually being one that might last less than twenty minutes, it must be paid. Meal or lunch periods (which are usually thirty minutes or more) do not need to be paid, so long as the employee is free to do as they wish during the meal or lunch period.
Termination of the contract
Texas and statewide laws do not cover pay in the event of termination of employment. Texas is an at-will employment state so without any specific statute or employment contract with the employee there can be termination without notice.
However there are exceptions to this rule when an employee which means that in the absence of a specific statute or employment contract, an employee can be terminated for any reason and without notice. There are a few exceptions to this rule, preventing termination in cases such as where there has been an illegal act carried out on the part of the employer, firing due to gender, age, religion, disability or some other protectede category.
There is also prevention from termination if it is because of union membership or the filing of a discrimination claim, or notification of some safety violation.
A violation of any of these matters can lead to a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which handles legal issues and disputes between employers and employees.
In the case of any termination without reasonable consent there have been several instances where our firm (Thorpe & Hatcher LLP – Dallas TX lawyers) has litigated numerous wrongful termination lawsuits with success and it is important to keep in mind that as an ‘at will’ state, Texas law does not permit termination where there is contract violation or where the terminated employee is part of a protected class.
Protection for the Staff
Texas law requires employers to keep a work file that documents hours completed by each employee. You are allowed to request to view it to ensure you receive fair pay.
Paydays and Reduced Paychecks
Employee’s salaries must come at least once a month. Non-exempt employees might get paid bi-monthly. If the company chooses to pay twice a month, they must try to split the month evenly.
Employers must keep within the regulations and pay staff before the 15th of the month. If you miss your payday, you must be paid by a specific date the employer sets. The payslip should include your name, pay per hour, any deductions, the number of hours completed, and the wage before tax.
All businesses must comply with the rules under the Texas Workforce Commission. Public employers are exempt from these rules. The only time it is acceptable not to provide salaries is if the court is involved. Employers have the right to do so using standardized forms. Should you be fired, you are to be paid six days from the termination letter.
All workers are allowed vacation or paid time off. Some contracts will let unused vacation days to roll over to next year.
Child Labor Rules
The Texas Child Labor Law ensures that a child is not employed in an occupation or manner that is harmful to the child’s safety, health or well-being. Texas law stipulates that it is illegal to employ a child under age 14 except under specific circumstances such as non-hazardous work undertaken with parental consent, newspaper delivery work and the like.
These requirements and related laws are clearly outlined in Texas government websites, but in general the child labor rules relate to any children under the age of 18 and the penalties and provisions relating to their enforcement are strict.
Firm: Thorpe & Hatcher is a Dallas-based law firm specializing in labor and employment law issues.
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