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What Defines Unpaid Wages?

What Defines Unpaid Wages?

Generally speaking, an employer must pay its employees for the work that they perform. This is true whether you are paid hourly, salary, commissions, or by the piece, or any other method for determining the amount. In Indiana, these wages must be paid either twice a month (semi-monthly) or every two weeks (bi-weekly). Failure to pay wages earned can result in penalties for the employer up to two times the amount of unpaid wages, plus attorney’s fees.

In Indiana, if you are an hourly employee with an agreed upon wage, your employer is obligated to pay you for the hours you work within ten (10) days of the payment period end. For overtime, an Indiana employee is entitled to 1.5 times his or her hourly rate for any of the hours worked past a 40 hour work-week. If an employer does not make these payments, an individual may have what is known as a wage and hour claim.

Indiana has two statutes, the Wage Claims Statute, Indiana Code §22-2-9, and the Wage Payment Statute, Indiana Code §22-2-5. The Wage Claims Statute is for employees that have either been terminated or are in a labor organization dispute. Individuals with a claim under the Wage Claims Statute, that is in excess of $6,000 must get approval from the Indiana Department of Labor to file a private suit against their employer. For claims between $30 and $6,000, the Indiana Department of Labor will collect your wages free of charge. If you have a claim for unpaid wages that is less than $6,000 a claim can be made by filling out the IDOL’s Online Wage Claim Form: https://www.in.gov/dol/2671.htm

The Wage Payment Statute is for employees who have voluntarily left employment or are still currently employed.

Under both Indiana statutes, an employee is entitled to liquidated damages ranging from 10% to no more than double the amount of wages due and reasonable attorney’s fees. These damages are in addition to the wages owed. These statutes are designed to pay individuals what they are due. Immigration status does not matter, and it is illegal for an employer to use immigration status as a justification for not paying wages.

The Indiana Supreme Court reiterated the importance of Indiana’s Wage and Hour laws and their importance for all workers who depend on their paychecks to be paid regularly.

“I write separately to observe that the facts of this case dramatize the point that the statute confers on all employees the right to recover treble damages and attorney’s fees for failure to pay wages, regardless of the employees’ circumstances. This is perfectly understandable as applied to the vast majority of workers who are dependent on their paychecks for their day-to-day expenses. These employees need the money currently, not at the end of protracted litigation, and often do not have the economic staying power to engage in a court battle over relatively small amounts. A statute providing one party with treble damages and attorney’s fees is a very substantial deterrent to an employer’s playing fast and loose with wage obligations. As applied to claims of most workers this is very understandable legislative policy.”

St. Vincent Hosp. & Health Care Ctr., Inc. v. Steele, 766 N.E.2d 699, 706 (Ind. 2002).

If you have worked, but not been paid, please contact the employment attorneys at Goodin Abernathy, LLP to determine if you have a wage and hour claim. Your time and effort is valuable – talk to us to determine your options for recovering your hard earned wages.

Age Discrimination in the Workplace: A Growing Trend for Baby Boomers

Age Discrimination in the Workplace: A Growing Trend for Baby Boomers

In the next five years, approximately 25% of our workforce will be 55 years or older. For some people like Bruce Arians, a former Colts NFL football coach, jobs are still opening up (see recent news article here). But how are things going for the rest of our older workers? Are you an older professional that was just fired or handed a severance package?

Demographics show a large portion of the Baby Boomer generation is still working. Whether its because they need to work or because they want to work, many 50+ year olds are not retiring. Theoretically, our federal law protects employment discrimination against workers 40 years of age and older. The law is known as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or the “ADEA”. But not all employers follow the law, and it’s much tougher for older workers to find new jobs – let alone financially recover from an unexpected severance.

In Indianapolis, our attorneys see this scenario commonly unfold in the medical industry. Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys are experienced with pharmaceutical and medical device representatives suddenly facing a “forced retirement.” Typical scenarios show the experienced reps are asked to train new, younger sales people. The trainees tag along, meet the customers and learn the ropes. Then, if they aren’t fired, the older rep’s territory just gets split up. Part of the territory is assigned to the younger worker, while the older rep’s compensation package does not change. This means the experienced worker just trained themselves into a pay cut. You can imagine what happens after a little more time when the younger worker learns the ropes: they’re handed both territories and the older worker is shown the door.

Other times the older, experienced worker gets pushed out or “harassed out” of their position. Their younger managers start building flimsy records of statistical violations. They say the older worker isn’t making enough sales calls; is not attending enough meetings; fails to use the company’s technology correctly, etc.

Behind the scenes, the company’s strategy is simple: replace the higher paid, experienced worker with cheaper labor offered by young workers. The older workers – who devoted their careers to improving the company’s interests – get cut loose by new or younger managers trying to make their own numbers look better.

Another typical scheme involves luring away experienced, older workers from competitors. After the older worker shares her book of business and discloses other proprietary information, the new company abruptly lets them go. The new company just wanted the work intel for its younger reps and never really planned to keep the new, older hire on board.

When companies plug younger workers into jobs and push out 40+ year old workers, the experienced workers should contact our Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys for an ADEA evaluation.

Contact Goodin Abernathy LLP, and we will tell you how to look for signs of illegal ageism or age discrimination. Consult us and we will explain the legal process for an ADEA or EEOC claim with an eye towards enforcing your legal rights.

Construction Accidents

Construction Accidents

CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENTS


If you or someone you know was injured while working at a construction site, there are typically two areas of law that we use to make your claim.

The FIRST is a worker’s compensation claim. This area of law is for employee claims against their own employers. The law requires the employer to offer these basic benefits:

1) Pay all medical treatment- including the ambulance, hospitals, doctors, physical therapy, medicine and x-rays.

2) Lost Income- if you miss more than 7 days of work in a row, the employer must pay you 66% of your average income. This is called TTD or Temporary Total Disability. These payments can extend if you return to restricted or less hours.

3) PPI- Permanent Partial Impairment- When the doctor says you are finished treating, she or he needs to write a report explaining if your injury caused a long term impairment that affects your ability to work.

The SECOND type of legal claim is for NEGLIGENCE against the general construction company. Unfortunately, a lot of times this legal claim is overlooked and the worker misses out on additional recovery.

So don’t let that happen to you. Share your information and we’ll investigate whether we can help you.

For instance, written construction contracts or legal relationships between the construction firms can require the general contractor to protect your safety.

A negligence claim against the general contractor can help you recover more than the limited benefits allowed by a work comp claim. This can be a VERY important part of your financial recovery.

Take a look at more information about these claims on our website OR just call me, Jim Browne at Goodin Abernathy.

For something really easy, just click the “Do I have a case” button and we’ll look at the specifics of your case.

Goodin Abernathy wants to help – and we’ll put our experience to work for you.

Video Surveillance & Indiana Worker’s Compensation Cases

Video Surveillance & Indiana Worker’s Compensation Cases

Video Surveillance & Indiana Worker’s Compensation Cases

What does the law say about video surveillance in Indiana Worker’s Compensation cases? Glad you asked – because the Goodin Abernathy LLP law firm handles those claims.

This video of a man, who seemingly fakes a fall and injury, is making the internet rounds. Click here to watch.

The video shows a man create his own water hazard and intentionally fall in it. When it comes to liability, Indiana’s worker’s compensation law favors workers – but this claim would probably “fall flat” in court.

So let’s look at two main points raised by the video:

1) How is liability handled in an Indiana Worker’s Compensation (“work comp”) claim?
2) Can the employer use video evidence?

A good part about Indiana’s work comp law is that an employer must accept a claim for accident and injury if an employee is hurt on the job. The employer cannot avoid responsibility and argue the employee is at fault for doing something wrong to cause the accident. This is a big difference from Indiana’s negligence law, where private individuals or businesses are suing each other. In a negligence case, a defendant can argue the plaintiff was more liable or “at fault” for causing the accident. If they prove it, the plaintiff can lose their whole case.

But not in an Indiana Worker’s Compensation case. As long as the accident occurred at work or in the scope of the employment, the employer must cover the claim.

There are a few exceptions. If the worker: intentionally caused the injury (watch that video again); was injured doing something criminal; or was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or intoxicants – then an employer can try to deny the claim.

On numerous occasions, we have represented injured clients against their employer’s intoxication defense. Usually these situations involve chemical test results showing traces of medicine, drugs or alcohol in the employee’s system. The employer must show, at the time of the accident, the intoxicants impaired the worker’s physical and mental abilities. That’s when you turn to the actual levels of intoxicants in the blood stream.

What if the worker consumed the substance days before the incident. While we do not condone it, what if the worker smoked marijuana the weekend before their accident? Calculations can be made to determine whether the substance actually affected the employee when the accident occurred. In some very serious injuries, that we won, we’ve proven our clients were not under the influence of drugs – even though traces showed up in their system.

Finally, YES, videos can be used in court. One reason could be for liability issues like the video that started this blog. Another reason could be to question our client’s credibility in a case where they claim permanent physical disability prevents them from working. An employer or its insurance company may have surveillance done, where a private investigator secretly follows the worker around, taking video of regular activities like driving, carrying groceries, fishing or cutting their lawn.

The Goodin Abernathy attorneys are very familiar with handling this evidence and give clients advice on how to conduct themselves, what to watch for and how to counter punch the private investigator’s assertions.

Indiana’s work comp law is well intentioned. It is designed with the thought an injured worker can represent herself in court without an attorney. But remember this: employers use sophisticated, trained insurance companies to defend the claims. Those insurance companies make money collecting premiums – not paying money towards injury claims. That’s why you should contact Goodin Abernathy LLP for advice on how to handle your Indiana Worker’s Compensation claim.

ADA and Dwarfism

What happens to whistleblowers and workers facing discrimination in the work place? Tricia Newbold, a dwarf, claims the White House is freezing her out of a job (see article here).

This story reminds me of one of the best cases, and clients, we’ve helped over the years. It involves an American with Disabilities Act claim and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) – legal areas which Goodin Abernathy LLP is experienced in, litigating cases with earnest to represent our clients.

Our client, “B”, is an Achondroplasia Dwarf. Outside of being a dwarf, B had normal dreams and aspirations like the rest of us had at a young age. B came to us because while she was working at a major restaurant chain, a manager and co-workers discriminated against her. They held her back from a job promotion and occasionally made disparaging remarks about her physical stature. They thought it was funny – but the remarks were mean to B.

B started as a hostess and wanted to get promoted to serving tables. Waitresses made more than those in the hostess position. Although the position required different physical requirements, B was up for the challenge.

The problem was, the restaurant outright denied her requests to be a server. On top of it, they were callous about it. The employer did not take time to consider what our laws say about equal opportunity for all workers. And probably worse yet, they did not take the time to consider the moral issues involved with the situation.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and its 2008 update, the ADA Amendments Act (“ADAAA”), provide legal protection for disabled workers in our country. Goodin Abernathy LLP submitted a Charge of Discrimination for B with the local EEOC office. When the EEOC gave us a “Right to Sue” letter, we filed a legal complaint against the employer in Federal Court.

We collected evidence in B’s case, showing the employer failed to reasonably communicate with her about the server’s position. Nor did they consider whether reasonable accommodations would have easily allowed B to perform the server’s job. On top of that, our investigation revealed the rude comments by staff and B’s supervisors.

The company’s attorneys fought and complained, but we did not give up. We did not expect a lot. We did not expect for B to retire on the case – but we did expect to win. B recovered financial compensation allowed under the law. And, we won, because as attorneys, we used the law and fought for somebody’s equal rights.

Contact attorney Chip Clark at Goodin Abernathy, LLP with any ADA or EEOC questions you have. Give us a chance to partner with you – fighting for the legal rights you morally deserve.