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By Louise Herman

After your first few weeks working at your new job, you’ve finally received your first paycheck. However, when it’s significantly less than you expected, you may be confused, frustrated, and disappointed. Being paid less than minimum wage is frustrating, but depending on your situation, it may be entirely legal. It’s vital to understand what your rights as an employee are. Keep reading to learn more about minimum wage exceptions and discover how a Providence, Rhode Island wage & hour lawyer can help you receive the pay you’re entitled to.

Are There Minimum Wage Exemptions?

Though there is a federal minimum wage and many states have their own rules surrounding pay, which may differ from the national standard of $7.25 per hour. For example, Rhode Island has determined that employers must pay all employees at least $13 an hour as of January 1, 2021.

However, there are some employees that are exempt from this rule. Farmworkers, full-time students, employees with disability (if they have applied for an applicable permit with the Department of Labor), and some non-profit organizations, if they apply for a necessary certificate, are all exempt from receiving minimum wage if they meet the necessary classifications.

Similarly, young workers are subject to sub-minimum wage pay for the first 90 days of employment if they are younger than 20. If the worker turns 20 or meets the 90-day mark, whichever comes first, their pay must be raised to full wage. This is due to the belief that the first 90 days of employment can be considered a training period.

What About Employees Who Make Tips?

Tipped employees are also exempt from earning minimum wage if they make more than $30 a month in tips, which constitutes being regularly tipped. Generally, tipped employees are paid as little as $2.13 federally or $3.98 in Rhode Island. This is because the money they receive in tips will supplement their paycheck.

If an employee does not make enough money in tips to bring their paycheck up to the minimum wage per hour, the employer must supplement the difference. This ensures that tipped employees receive at least the minimum wage, despite a low hourly rate.

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you believe you are receiving unfair pay, ensuring you contact an attorney is crucial. You deserve to be paid for the work you’ve performed, and an employment attorney can help.

There are several ways employers can pay you less than minimum wage, which include misclassifying your status as an employee. You should bring any employment agreements or contracts you signed and your paystubs when meeting with an employment lawyer to show how you are being paid unfairly.

When you’re being unfairly paid at work, ensuring you reach out to an employment lawyer is crucial. It’s vital to get the pay you deserve, and the Herman Law Group can help. We have the experience necessary to fight for justice in your place of employment. Reach out today to discuss the details of your case and learn how we can help.

About the Author
At Herman Law Group, our focus is on safeguarding the rights and careers of employees and businesses alike. With over 35 years of successful legal practice, Louise A. Herman brings an invaluable dual perspective from representing both employees and employers. This unique insight allows us to effectively achieve successful outcomes for our clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and nationwide.