Great News for Minimum Wage Workers!
By Joshua C. Black, Esq. & Katerina Romano
Arizona’s lowest paid workers have suffered the most during COVID-19.
Over the past year we have seen workers across all industries in Arizona suffering from layoffs and job furloughs due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. While some industries have been deemed “essential” and employees in those fields have remained largely employed, other fields such as foodservice and retail have seen significant displacement of workers over the past twelve months. As workers in these fields are typically earning minimum wage, or close to it, it can be particularly devastating for these folks when pay is interrupted or a job ends unexpectedly.
Hooray! More pay!
Many folks have returned to the workplace and there is hope with the administration of vaccines that we may get past this pandemic in the near future. While much will be needed to assist employees who were displaced by the pandemic, pay increases for impacted workers may be one good way for employers to start aiding in the recovery of their workforce. For minimum wage workers, it’s important to know that you should be returning to a raise! As of January 1, 2021, Arizona’s minimum wage increased to $12.15 per hour (and as high as $15.00 per hour in some cities such as Flagstaff). Minimum wage for tipped employees increased to $9.15 per hour (and $12.00 per hour in Flagstaff).
Arizona now ranked 9th in minimum wage pay.
For those of us who have lived on minimum wage we know that it can be hard to cover the essentials and maintain a basic standard of living, especially for those providing for a family. As of last week’s increase, Arizona is now tied with Mane for having the nineth-highest minimum wage in the country. While this change alone is not going to alleviate the suffering of those living near the poverty line it is considered a step in the right direction by many.
What if my employer is paying me below minimum wage?
If your employer fails to comply with the mandatory minimum wage increase you may report your employer to the Arizona Department of Labor and reach out to an employment attorney to discuss your matter and potential options for resolution. If an employer is found to have improperly withheld pay owed an employee, the employee may be entitled to collect not only the pay owed but may actually be entitled to recover three times as much through something called “treble damages.” If you feel this may be your situation you should reach out to a competent employment attorney to discuss the particulars of your matter.