Filing a Wage and Hour Claim – Texas
Texas law does not provide for overtime. For that reason, only federal law applies in the state. There may be specific rules that apply to certain government employees, including police officers and firefighters.
Does Texas have a minimum wage that is different from federal law?
The Texas minimum wage is tied to the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25.
The Texas minimum wage provision only covers those employees not covered by the federal minimum wage. There are nonetheless some employees in Texas who are not covered by the federal or the state minimum wage:
- Members of a religious order performing a service for or at the direction of the order
- Duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed ministers, priests, rabbis, sextons, or Christian Science readers while they are performing services in that capacity for churches, synagogues, or religious organizations
- Individuals engaged in the activities or religious, educational, charitable, or nonprofit organizations in which there is no employer-employee relationship or the services are rendered to the organization gratuitously
- Employees of the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts of America, or local affiliated organizations
- Employees of camps run by religious, educational, charitable, or nonprofit organizations
- Couples employed by nonprofit educational institutions to serve as the parents of orphans or children who have lost one parent
- Couples who reside in the residential facilities of nonprofit educational institutions
- Bona fide executive, administrative, and professional employees
- Outside salespersons and collectors paid on commission
- Elected officials or members of legislative bodies
- Domestic employees providing services in or about a private home (e.g. babysitters)
- Employees who live in a private home and furnish personal care for a resident of the home
- Employees under 18 who have not graduated high school or a vocational program
- Employees under 20 enrolled in high school, college, university, or a vocational training program
- Disabled individuals under 21 who are clients of vocational rehabilitation participating in a cooperative school-work program
- Employer’s brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-laws, children, spouses, parents, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, wards, or cases where the employer is a person in loco parentis to the employee
- Employees of amusement or recreational establishments that do not operate for more than seven months in a given year or which make the vast majority of their profits in a six-month period
- Employees working in dairy farming or the production of livestock
- Patients and clients of the of the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation whose productive capacity is impaired and who performs work in the context of her/his therapy or occupational training in a sheltered workshop
Tipped employees are treated under state law the same way they are treated under federal law. In other words, an employer may pay a tipped employee $2.13 in cash wages as long as this combined with tips adds up to the minimum wage of $7.25. Whereas a person must make $30 per month in tips to be covered by this provision under federal law, the Texas tip credit applies to anyone making at least $20 per month.
Employers may deduct the reasonable cost of meals and lodging if the meals and lodging are customarily furnished and are stated separately on the earnings statement. Employers do not need to pay non-worked on-call time to employees who live on the premises and who generally on call.
Does Texas have meal and rest break requirements, unlike federal law?
Like federal law, Texas state law does not require employers to provide meal or rest breaks. If breaks of less than 20 minutes are provided, they must be paid.
How do I file a wage/hour or labor standards claim in Texas?
If your employer has not paid you wages you are owed, you can file a wage claim with the Texas Employment Commission. There is an elaborate procedure of investigations and hearings, described at http://www.twc.state.tx.us/ui/lablaw/pdlsum.html. The form for filing a wage claim can be found at http://www.twc.state.tx.us/ui/lablaw/ll1.pdf. If you are not happy with the outcome of the process, you can ask a court to review the case. If your wage claim is valid, you may be entitled to double the amount you are owed from your employer. If your employer is paying you below the minimum wage, you can also bring a private lawsuit.
Do not delay in contacting the Texas Employment Commission to file a claim. There are strict time limits in which charges of wage-and-hour violations must be brought. In order for the Commission to act on your behalf, you must file within 180 days after the date the wages were due for payment. 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 the Commission.
How can I or my attorney pursue a claim in court in Texas?
If your employer has failed to pay you the minimum wage, you have two years from the date the wages were due to file a lawsuit to recover the unpaid wages. Your employer is liable to you for twice the amount you are owed in wages, and the court may also require your employer to pay your litigation costs and attorneys’ fees. If your employer has otherwise failed to pay your wages under Texas law, you must go through the administrative process described in #5.
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