Can an employer legally only pay me $5/hour for 40 hours?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Can an employer legally only pay me $5/hour for 40 hours?

I ran and operated from open to close an antique shop for a little over a year. The employer knew that I was desperate for work and only offered this rate knowing I couldn’t refuse in order to provide for my family. I received under the table checks weekly that I deposited into my account each time, creating a record of these payments, with dates and hours that he wrote on the checks himself. I operated the entire business single handedly for a year, open to close every day for $5/hour and no compensation per sale. Do I have grounds for legal action for violating labor laws? Since I am a felon I believe he used that against me as well in a discriminatory fashion. Not to mention, I was always on call to go to the store at a moment’s notice to perform after hour duties with no compensation for time worked.

Asked on August 9, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Kansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If the company has no more than two employees, grosses less than $500,000 in sales per year, AND does not engage in "interstate commerce"--which means does not buy inventory or services or tools/equipment from out of state, does have a commercial website, and essentially does *everything* 100% in its state--then it is not covered by the minimum wage law. As you can imagine, very, very few companies are not covered by minimum wage. 
If your employer is not covered by minimum wage, they can pay you $5/hour. If they are covered. by, as the vast majority of businesses are, then they are breaking the law and you could contact the department of labor to file a wage and hour complaint.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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