Filing a Wage and Hour Claim – Rhode Island
Does Rhode Island have overtime laws that are different from federal law?
Like federal law, Rhode Island law requires that employees be paid one and a half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over forty in any given workweek. Anyone who is not covered by the minimum wage requirements (see #2 below) is not covered by the overtime requirements. In addition, the following employees who are covered by the minimum wage requirements are not covered by the overtime requirement:
- Employees of summer camps not open more than six months per year
- Police officers, firefighters, and rescue service personnel employed by cities and towns
- Employees of state or political subdivisions of the state who elect through collective bargaining agreements or otherwise to receive comp time instead of overtime
- Employees employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity (defined under state law) and receiving at least $200 per week in salary
- Salaried employees of nonprofit national voluntary health agencies (to whom comp time applies)
- Drivers, drivers’ helpers, mechanics and loaders of motor carriers
- Under certain conditions, salespersons, part persons, or mechanics primarily engaged in the sale and/or servicing of automobiles, trucks, or farm implements and employed by a non-manufacturing employer primarily engaged in the business of selling vehicles or farm implements
The minimum wage in Rhode Island is $8.00 per hour, which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Full-time students under 19 working for nonprofit religious, educational, library, or community service organizations may be paid at a lower rate per hour, and 14 and 15 year olds who do not work more than 24 hours per week may be paid at a lower rate per hour.
The following employees are not covered by Rhode Island’s minimum wage law:
- Domestic service employees in or about private homes
- Federal employees
- Volunteers in educational, charitable, religious, or nonprofit organizations where there is no employer/employee relationship
- Newspaper carriers on home delivery
- Shoe-shine persons
- Golf course caddies
- Ushers in theaters
- Traveling or outside salespersons
- Employees employed by their sons or daughters
- Minor children employed by their parents
- Employees in resort establishments not open more than six months during the year (between May 1 and October 1 only)
- Employees of organized camps having a structured program including but not limited to recreation, education and/or religion (only includes employees not employed on an annual full-time basis in camps that do not operate for more than seven months each year)
Tipped employees may be paid as little as $2.89 per hour, as long as tips bring this amount up to $7.40.
Does Rhode Island have meal and rest break requirements, unlike federal law?
Rhode Island recently repealed its law requiring meal and rest breaks. However, there is legislation pending that would reinstate those requirements.
How do I file a wage/hour or labor standards claim in Rhode Island?
If your employer owes you wages, you can file a complaint with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Division of Labor Standards. The form is available at http://www.dlt.ri.gov/ls/pdfs/complaintform_LS.pdf. Before submitting the form, however, you must formally ask your employer for the wages (s)he owes you. The Department will attempt to help resolve the situation, and if this is unsuccessful may bring a complaint in court on your behalf. If the court case is successful, the court may award you whatever wages you are owed as well as any other benefits you are owed; in some circumstances, the court may also award that you be reinstated at your job.
What are my time deadlines?
Do not delay in contacting the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training. There are strict time deadlines in which charges of wage-and-hour violations must be filed. In order for the Department to act on your behalf, you must file your claim within three years. However, as you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim until your time limit is close to expiring. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. Yet if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your claim with the Department.
How can I or my attorney pursue a claim in court in Rhode Island?
Instead of filing a claim with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, you may file a claim in court to collect your unpaid wages. You must nonetheless at least inform the Department of the violation. There is a one-year statue of limitations for such a claim. The court may order that you be reinstated in your job and may order your employer pay you back wages and benefits owed. The court may also require your employer to pay your litigation costs.
This material was originally prepared by attorney Joseph Jaramillo and former law clerks Keia Cole and Adam Weiss of the law firm Goldstein, Demchak Baller Borgen and Dardarian, and was updated by Professor Douglas D. Scherer, of Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Professor Scherer also serves as the Vice President of Workplace Fairness.
© 2015 Workplace Fairness