State Employment Laws – Final Paychecks, Overtime, Other Issues for Employees

If I work 9 hours, should my employer pay me overtime for the 9th hour?

If I call in sick one day, but I work ten hours the next day, should I be paid overtime?

If I was fired, is my employer supposed to give me my paycheck right away?

If I am a tipped employee, can my employer pay me less than minimum wage?

These are just a few examples of frequently asked questions that arise during the course of employment. In order to find the answers to these questions, and other questions surrounding employment, employees must refer to the department that handles labor in the state in which they live.

Some people mistakenly believe that all employment issues are handled by the United States Department of Labor (US DOL). This is not the case. Some states have very stringent employment laws and regulations, while other states refer to the US DOL for regulation. The laws that are more beneficial to the employee is the law that is used.

For example, California has stringent employment laws from overtime to final paychecks. While the Department of Labor indicates that overtime will only be paid after 40 hours are worked in a workweek, California adheres to the 8-hour workday, regardless of the number of hours worked in a workweek. The United States Department of Labor indicates that employees must wait until the next regular payday to receive their final paycheck, while California mandates a final paycheck be given immediately to an employee upon termination.

Another example would be minimum wage. The US DOL states the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Alaska's minimum wage is $7.75 per hour. If you reside and work in Alaska, you are paid Alaska's minimum wage. Some states have a lower minimum wage. If you live in a state where the minimum wage is less than $7.25 per hour, you must be paid federal minimum wage.

Some states will handle all aspects of employment issues, including medical leave. Some states will handle one or two specific areas and refer everything else to the US DOL. If your state regulates a certain aspect of employment that is more stringent than the US Department of Labor, your complaint is submitted to your state.

For example, Alabama handles wage claims that are a direct result of normal wages not being paid in a timely manner. All other issues including overtime, being paid less than minimum wage, no rest or meal periods, etc. are referred to the United States Department of Labor. Most wage claims and issues in California are handled by the state.

In this hub, I am going to list all of the states in alphabetical order and provide the agency in which you need to contact to find out what employment issues are handled at the state level versus the federal level. I have highlighted some information for each state, with links provided in order to obtain specific information.

Because many states do refer to the US Department of Labor for employment issues that involve wages, I will first outline some of the most frequent issues involving wages and employment regulations using the US Department of Labor and provide links. I will then proceed with a list of states and each state agency that handles employment issues.

If you belong to a union, you should direct all employment issues/complaints to your union.

If your state refers to the US Department of Labor for (click links to read the information at US Dept of Labor):

Minimum Wage—the federal minimum wage as of 07/24/09 is $7.25 per hour. Because many states have its own minimum wage, the higher of the two will be paid to the employee. There are some exceptions.

Overtime Pay—overtime is calculated by no less than 1.5 times an employee’s rate of pay for any hours worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. Overtime is payable to salaried employees. There are some exceptions regarding overtime pay for exempt employees. Exemptions are based upon occupation and/or job title. The US DOL does not mandate overtime pay for weekends and/or holidays, unless the hours worked contribute to working more than 40 hours in a workweek.

Holiday, Sick, Vacation Pay—there is no requirement for employers to pay for holiday, sick, and/or vacation time. These are considered fringe benefits. Any payment for fringe benefits must be included in an employee handbook or company policy handbook, explicitly stating how it will be paid and/or if it will be paid upon termination.

Family Medical Leave Act—provides for at least 12 weeks of unpaid time off work for certain medical and/or family situations.

Severance Pay—is not mandated by the US Department of Labor. It is considered an agreement between the employer and the employee. If an employee did not receive severance pay as outlined in a written agreement, contact the Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Tips—employers may pay employees who receive tips $2.13 per hour as long as the combined wage and tips equal federal minimum wage (most states do mandate a higher rate of hourly pay).

Final Pay Checks—required to be given to the employee on the normal, regular pay day.

State Departments of Labor for Employees

Alabama: State of Alabama Department of Labor

Alabama handles only wage claims when employer fails to pay in a prompt and timely manner; all other regulations/complaints are handled by the US DOL.

Alaska: Division of Labor Standards and Safety

Alaska has state-specific regulations on numerous employment issues, some of which include:

FMLA, overtime, final paychecks

Arizona: Industrial Commission of Arizona

Arizona handles some wage claims; state-specific on final paychecks; refers to US DOL for most regulations and complaints.

Arkansas: Arkansas Department of Labor

Arkansa has some state-specific laws (final paychecks); refers to US DOL for most regulations.

California: California Department of Industrial Relations; Division of Labor Standards Enforcement

California has numerous state-specific employment regulations including overtime; final paychecks; accrued/prorated vacation must be paid on final paycheck; must pay minimum wage even if job includes tips; state specific for family medical leave--includes paid leave; most employment issues handled by the state, not the US DOL.

Colorado: Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

Colorado has several state-specific laws (final paychecks and includes accrued vacation time; state-specific overtime), US DOL handles medical leave; state handles most wage claims.

Conneticut: Conneticut Department of Labor

Connecticut has several state-specific laws (final paychecks, medical leave); state handles most wage claims.

Delaware: State of Delaware Department of Labor

Delaware handles most wage claims for both state-specific employment issues and administers most aspects of US DOL regulations/complaints;

District of Columbia: Department of Employment Services

District of Columbia has several state-specific regulations; mandatory sick-leave benefits, not payable upon termination; state-specific final paychecks; handles most wage claims;

Florida: Agency for Workforce Organization

Florida does not have a state agency that handles wage issues; however, the above link is an organization to assist employees with employment issues, although Florida residents will be referred to DOL to file complaints. Florida utilizes US DOL for employment regulations.

Georgia: Georgia Department of Labor

Georgia utilizes US DOL for most, if not all, employment regulations and complaints.

Hawaii: Department of Labor and Industrial Relations

Hawaii has state-specific family medical leave; most employment regulations handled by US DOL.

Idaho: State of Idaho Department of Labor

Idaho handles normal wage claims only; utilizes US DOL for employment regulations.

Illinois: State of Illinois Department of Labor

Illinois has some-state specific employment laws; handles some wage claims.

Indiana: Indiana Department of Labor

Indiana utilizes US DOL for employment regulations and most complaints.

Iowa: Iowa Labor Services Division

Iowa does not have a state agency that handles wage issues; however, the above link is an organization to assist employees with employment issues, althought Iowa residents will be referred to US DOL to file complaints. Iowa adheres to all DOL regulations.

Kansas: Kansas Department of Labor

Kansas utilizes US DOL for employment regulations and most complaints.

Kentucky: Kentucky Labor Cabinet

Kentucky utlizes US DOL for regulations; handles several employment complaints and wage claims.

Louisiana: Louisiana Workforce Commission

Louisiana utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations/complaints; some state-specific laws; specific list of agency to contact for each type of complaint.

Maine: Maine Department of Labor

Maine has several state-specific employment regulations; instructed to contact Maine Department of Labor for all complaints (link).

Maryland: Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; Division of Labor and Industry

Maryland has several state-specific employment regulations; includes list of employment issues and indicates what agency to contact to file complaints.

Massachusetts: Labor and Workforce Development

Massachusetts has several state-specific employment egulations pertaining to wages and employment (link here).

Michigan: Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth

Michigan utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations and most complaints; handles some non-payment of wages complaints.

Minnesota: Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

Minnesota has some state-specific laws; limited availability to file complaints via internet; contact information here.

Mississippi: Mississippi Department of Employment Security

Mississippi utilizes US DOL employment regulations for complaints and wage claims; no state agency for employees; employees must contact US DOL.

Missouri: Missouri Department of Labor

Missouri handles some wage claims (minimum wage, final paychecks tipped employees); some state-specific employment laws.

Montana: Department of Labor and Industry

Montana has several state-specific employment laws; not an at-will employment state (employer must have cause to terminate); handles several types of complaints.

Nevada: Nevada Office of the Labor Commissioner

Nevada has some state-specificemployment laws; handles some complaints; utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations.

Nebraska: Nebraska Department of Labor

Nebraska utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations; handles wage claims pertaining to unpaid wages and being paid less than minimum wage.

New Hampshire: New Hampshire Department of Labor

New Hampshire utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations; some state-specific laws (including final paychecks).

New Jersey: State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development

New Jersey utilizes US DOL for nearly every regulation; New Jersey does have its own family medical leave; contact State of New Jersey DOL to find out which entitiy will handle wage claims and other types of claims.

New Mexico: New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions

New Mexico will handle some wage claims; final paychecks must be issued to employees no later than five days after termination;

New York: New York Department of Labor

New York utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations;

North Carolina: N.C. Department of Labor

North Carolina utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations; handles some wage complaints.

North Dakota: North Dakota Department of Labor

Northa Dakota has some state-specific employment laws including accrued vacation required to be included with final paycheck.

Ohio: Ohio Department of Commerce

Ohio handles some wage complaints; some state-specific employment laws.

Oklahoma: Oklahoma Department of Labor

Oklahoma utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations; handles some wage claims.

Oregon: Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries

Oregon has some state-specific laws including final paychecks issued same day as termination; handles some wage claims.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry

Pennsylvania utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations; handles some wage claims.

Rhode Island: Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training

Rhode Island has many state-specific laws including mandatory holiday pay, accrued vacation pay upon termination, state medical leave; handles most wage claims and employee complaints.

South Carolina: South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation

South Carolina utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations; handles general wage claims.

South Dakota: South Dakota Department of Labor

South Dakota utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations; will handle general wage claims (not overtime).

Tennessee: Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Tennessee utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations; most claims are handled by the US DOL.

Texas: Texas Workforce Commission

Texas utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations and refers employees to US DOL for almost all complaints and wage claims.

Utah: Utah Labor Commission

Utah utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations; however, Utah does mandate final paychecks be paid withing 24 hours after termination; Utah handles some wage claims.

Vermont: Vermont Department of Labor

Vermont utilizes US DOL for most employment regulations; however, Vermont does mandate final paychecks be paid within 72 hours after termination; handles general wage claims.

Washington State: Department of Labor and Industries

Wisconsin: Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

Wisconsin does not mandate employee paid rest periods; has both federal and state FMLA; list of employee-related issues for FAQs can be found here.

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Comments 11 comments

schoolmarm profile image

schoolmarm 5 years ago from Florida

Great hub. My friend is in need of this information. Thanks


Deni Edwards profile image

Deni Edwards 5 years ago from california Author

Thanks, schoolmarm!


Jillian Barclay profile image

Jillian Barclay 5 years ago from California, USA

Researched well, Deni! This could be used as the standard; answering questions regarding pay, overtime, etc. In a pamphlet form, this would be an invaluable tool for every worker in this country. I especially loved your article concerning final paychecks in California. Since you did not link it, I will: http://hubpages.com/hub/californialaborcodefinalpa... It made me realize that your research is always spot on!


Deni Edwards profile image

Deni Edwards 5 years ago from california Author

Hi, Jillian,

Thanks for the comment. I learned quite a bit by doing this hub--most notably--which states are more employer friendly and which are more employee friendly. It seems as though California and Rhode Island are very worker-friendly states.

Thanks for reading.


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Cool hub,thanks for sharing.


Deni Edwards profile image

Deni Edwards 5 years ago from california Author

Thank you for reading!


Gabby_213 profile image

Gabby_213 5 years ago from New York, USA

Good. This would be favorable to me.


Jeanne 4 years ago

Do you have a link for Washington?


Deni Edwards profile image

Deni Edwards 4 years ago from california Author

Hmm. I guess I forgot that one. If you ever need to find who handles employment issues in your state, all you have to do is enter into a search box: (your state) department of labor.


john 4 years ago

I live in Ohio but my company is based out of California. If I am laid off, will I lose my vacation pay?


Deni Edwards profile image

Deni Edwards 4 years ago from california Author

I believe that you would need to adhere to Ohio's Department of Labor--not California's. You need to check to see what your employee handbook says about this. Most states indicate that there is no state policy, but that the DOL will enforce an employer's policy.

So, find your handbook, and then you need to contact Ohio's Department of Labor

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