South Carolina Wage and Hour Law
Dolley Law has provided legal counsel and expertise to many clients across the country regarding wage and hour laws. We have extensive knowledge and experience in FLSA compliance, minimum wage issues, overtime compensation disputes, and other wage and hour matters. Contact us if you are seeking legal representation or guidance in connection with a wage and hour matter.
South Carolina Overtime Law
South Carolina does not have its own state overtime laws, so the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) provides the rules for paying employees overtime in South Carolina. See 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). Nonexempt employees should be paid one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay for every hour worked over 40 in each workweek. Id.
The FLSA has expansive coverage. Employers fall under the standards of the FLSA if they either gross at least $500,000 in revenue or engage in interstate commerce in some fashion. See 29 U.S.C. § 203(s). The FLSA, nonetheless, outlines specific categories of exemptions from its minimum wage and/or overtime requirements; for example, employees who, among other things, perform certain administrative, executive, and professional job duties may not be subject to these minimum wage or overtime requirements. See 29 U.S.C. § 213(a).
South Carolina Minimum Wage Law
South Carolina also does not have its own minimum wage law, so it uses the FLSA as the standard for paying minimum wages. See 29 U.S.C. § 206(a)(1)(C). Currently, the FLSA states that nonexempt employees must be paid a minimum of $7.25 per hour. 29 U.S.C. § 206(a)(1)(C). And, under the FLSA, employees who regularly earn tips may receive a reduced hourly compensation—$2.13 per hour—so long as, when tips are added to weekly compensation, the average hourly rate for the tipped employee meets the required minimum wage. 29 C.F.R. § 516.28 (2019).
Potential Wage and Hour Liabilities
Employers should do their best to comply with the FLSA to avoid unnecessary litigation and liabilities. Under the FLSA, employers in violation can be held liable for unpaid wages, attorney’s fees, and liquidated damages. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Id. A good-faith defense to liquidated damages may exist for employers who can show objective and subjective good-faith efforts to comply with FLSA guidelines. 29 U.S.C. § 260; Regan v. City of Charleston, 142 F. Supp. 3d 442, 463-64 (D.S.C. 2015).
If employees suspect their employer has violated the FLSA, they should file a claim as soon as possible because the statute of limitations for actions brought under the FLSA is only two years. 29 U.S.C. § 255(a). If the employer has willfully violated federal wage and hour rules, it can extend to three years. Id.
Additional Wage Payment Rules
In South Carolina, employers must pay wages in a timely manner; those who fail to do so risk paying penalties and fines. See S.C. Code Ann. § 41-10-80. Among other wage payment requirements, employers should pay employees on regularly scheduled paydays agreed upon at the time of hire. S.C. Code Ann. § 41-10-30(A). South Carolina’s wage payment laws and resulting penalties only apply to employers with more than five employees. S.C. Code Ann. § 41-10-20(2).
Employers who intentionally fail to pay wages could owe significant damages. See S.C. Code Ann § 41-10-80(C). In a civil action brought against an employer for violations of wage payment requirements, employers could owe treble damages in addition to reasonable attorney’s fees. Id. However, because the statute has the purpose of punishing employers who intentionally underpaid their employees, employers have a possible defense to the damages. If an employer can show that there was a genuine dispute over whether the wages were owed, the court has the discretion to not award or to reduce the treble damages. Mathis v. Brown & Brown of South Carolina, Inc., 698 S.E.2d 773, 781-82 (S.C. 2010).
Our Firm represents clients in FLSA cases in courts throughout the United States. Our legal expertise can also help you to properly comply with state and federal laws and to avoid or minimize the risk of liabilities. We are available to help answer questions regarding your rights and duties under these laws. If you are an employee or employer in or around Greenville, Richland, Charleston, Horry, Spartanburg, Lexington, York, Berkeley, Anderson, or Beaufort counties and wish to discuss a wage and hour issue and potential legal representation, contact our attorneys directly at 314-645-4100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.