The first step to helping workers enforce their rights is to ensure they understand what their rights are. As part of our ongoing commitment to employee rights in Arkansas and beyond, the legal team at the Sanford Law Firm makes it a priority to educate both our clients and the public as to their rights and obligations as employees. Our goal is to provide workers with some insight to the protections that exist under state and federal employment law. However, nothing herein should stand as a substitute for personalized legal advice after a consultation with an experienced Little Rock employment attorney.
At the Sanford Law Firm we work closely with our clients throughout their claims and make it a priority to keep them informed and educated about their rights as workers. With convenient office locations in Little Rock and Russellville, we serve employees of all types during employment disputes throughout Arkansas. But we are also ready and willing to work in other states — wherever workers need a strong and principled advocate. Call our Little Rock office at 501-476-6251 or toll free at or contact us online to schedule a consultation regarding your employment issue.
Unfortunately, neither federal nor Arkansas law actually requires an employer to provide a meal break. And if an employer does provide a meal break, it need not be paid time. However, for a meal break to be unpaid, the worker must be fully relieved of his or her duties during that period. If an employee must continue to perform any job duties during a lunch period, the employer must pay for that time.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to provide breaks during the workday. While many states do, Arkansas is not among them. Many employers do, nonetheless, allow their employees to take brief rest breaks periodically throughout the day. Employers who choose to do this must compensate their employees for these breaks and must count them as hours worked for overtime purposes.
Generally, under both state and federal wage and hour laws, hourly employees must receive 1.5 times their normal compensation for every hour over 40 worked in a given workweek. Salaried employees working in executive, administrative, professional and certain technical capacities may be what are called FLSA exempt and not entitled to overtime pay. Employees must be careful, however, as some employers incorrectly classify employees as FLSA exempt in order to avoid paying overtime.
For discrimination under federal law, a worker can file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This preserves your rights and still allows you to file a lawsuit later. While Arkansas has similar discrimination laws in place, there is no administrative process for enforcing them and workers who want to proceed under these laws must file a lawsuit in state court. Speaking to an attorney early in the process can help you decide which course of action is best and take the appropriate steps to preserve your rights.
The first step is to report harassment to your employer. Most employers should have set procedures for doing so. If your employer fails to put a stop to harassment, then you should consider consulting an attorney and filing either a charge with the EEOC or a lawsuit in federal or state court. Employers may be liable for acts of harassment by their employees, supervisors or even customers if they fail to take action after being informed of the problem.
Arkansas, like many states, is an employment at will jurisdiction. This means that unless a contract says otherwise, your employer does not need a reason to fire you. If, however, you have reason to believe you were fired for discriminatory reasons or because you participated in an investigation or reported violations by your employer, you should consult an attorney immediately. Moreover, you should make sure your employer promptly pays you any wages it owes you. If it refuses to do so, you may have legal recourse.