Federal and Illinois minimum wage law violations were at the heart of a settlement Wal-Mart, the retail giant, reached in a suit brought by the US Department of Labor. Wal-Mart has to pay 87,000 workers in Illinois and around the country $33 million in not only back wages but also in interest.
This isn’t the first time Wal-Mart has had issues with its payroll system. Moreover, this settlement only applies to certain violations. The judgment outlines these violations. Private litigation is not impacted by this settlement, nor is any worker’s ability to file complaints against Wal-Mart with the Department of Labor.
The settlement of federal and Illinois minimum wage law violations concerns how Wal-Mart paid certain employees, including interns, trainees, managers, and programmer trainees who were salaried employees. These employees often worked long hours for very little money. Federal law requires that workers who are considered salaried may still be eligible for overtime payments.
Whether they are eligible depends on the duties of their jobs. In some cases, employees are actually “non-exempt salaried” workers and therefore can receive overtime.
Employees often think that salaried workers cannot receive overtime, but that is not true. The way the guidelines work is that if an employee is paid $23,660 a year or less, they should be paid overtime for work they do beyond 40 hours a week. Under these guidelines, employees earning less than $455 a week can receive overtime.
That doesn’t mean that workers who earn more are automatically exempt from overtime payments. Managers who are salaried employees do not receive overtime if they have specific job duties. If managers have the ability to make significant decisions concerning a store, a department, or a division, then they are exempt from overtime. In many cases, these managers have the ability to decide employment issues, such as the hiring and firing of more than 3 employees.
Illinois overtime law has its own stipulations and exceptions, so it’s best if we cover it here. It’s, of course, especially important if you’re an employer or employee in the state. But it’s also interesting for us to look at it strictly to see how each and every state in the Union could have its own overtime laws if it wanted.
The Illinois law starts out like every basic overtime law. The main provision is that employees are generally entitled to overtime pay of 1.5 times their normal rate for all time spent working in a week over the 40 hour limit.
It gets a bit more unique when we start talking about holidays and Sundays. Under Illinois law, employers do not necessarily have to pay employee’s overtime, or special, compensation for working on a holiday or Sunday—unless of course, that time happens to put them over the 40 hour limit for the week. If the employer agreed beforehand though, to give special pay for Sundays and holidays, then the law says they should pay up.
Overtime rules in Illinois also have their own set of exempt professions that we should take a look at. These include any salesperson or mechanic who sells or services farm equipment, cars, or trucks at a dealership.
Any agricultural or government laborers are also excluded from overtime, and any professional, administrative, or executive employee as stated in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act isn’t included. There are two tests to determine if you fall into this category. First, you are a salaried employee, and second, your primary duties must meet the federal definition.
We shouldn’t forget certain employees at radio or TV stations at cities of populations less than 100,000, or employees of certain residential child care or education institutions. They are also exempt from overtime rules.
More detailed information regarding overtime and all labor laws can be found on the Illinois Complete Labor Law poster.