What to do if I’m not being paid a fair wage?

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What to do if I’m not being paid a fair wage?

I’m working for a trucking company and I’m buying a truck from them. When they take out for taxes and gas plus the truck payment I’m left without a great profit. I made $2998.47 this week and my net pay was $471. I have a house payment 6 children and a wife. I work all week night and day and sometimes I don’t even get to come home at night. I don’t feel like I’m being paid enough on the loads when gas is so high and they are taking all these taxes out. I worked all week 1week and only received $70. Do I have a case? Am I being underpaid?

Asked on June 9, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, the law does not prevent anyone from being underpaid.

If you are an independent contractor, you get whatever you contracted for--no more, no less. If you are an employee, your gross pay--that is, before deductions, such as for taxes--must be at least minimum wage, which you are making much more than. (Note: if you are an employee, not a contractor, you probably should be earning overtime, or time-and-a-half, for hours worked past 40 in a week.) There are no minimums on net, or take home, pay, however: your net pay is simply whatever is left after required deductions (e..g FICA) or ones which your authorized (such as for health insurance, 401k or pensions, or, in your case, deductions to buy  a truck). Thus, as long as the deductions are authorized by law and/or by you, the law doesn't care, unfortunately, if you end up with little or nothing at the end of the week. The law, other than the minimum wage and overtime laws, does not recognize "underpaid" or provide a remedy.

Whether you are being underpaid by industry standards is something you can figure out by seeing what other drivers typically make. That doesn't give you legal recourse, though--just an idea as to whether you should look for a different job.

It may be that in your case, you can't afford to buy the truck from them; you may need to re-evaluate your budget.

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your situation.  It really sounds like you are being taken advantage of.  But the thing is, someone needs to read whatever the agreement is between you and the company as to the purchase, etc., and to review your paychecks in person in order to give you any guidance.  This is best done by an attorney in your state of South Carolina because the attorney will hopefully be familiar with contract law and employment law and apply it to the agreement between you.  If you are being taken advantage of and they are violating employment laws they you can file a complaint with the department of labor.  If the contract is found to be unconscionable or unilateral or any other situations that will give rise to a law suit in contract law then the attorney will let you know.  As for a flat fee consultation. Good luck to you. 


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